Steve Chambers looks at what the new city region mayors are doing for walking, focussing on Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
It has become traditional to review the work of new politicians when they are 100 days into the job. And this has been the case with the new ‘metro’ mayors that were elected in May this year.
Perhaps it is a little unfair to expect them to have delivered too much so soon, especially as the mayoral positions themselves are also brand new.
However, the first 100 days certainly set the tone for what kind of mayor they are going to be.
Transport is the biggest area of responsibility for the new mayors, so we should expect to see some action on walking.
In the Living Streets Blueprint for Change we identify seven steps to creating a Walking City.
How are they getting on with the first two?
We call on mayors to appoint someone at a senior level to champion walking with the power to make positive change happen.
We’d expect to see this happen in the early part of the mayoralty.
How are the mayors doing?
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, is the star of the show in this respect, appointing famous cyclist and keen walker Chris Boardman to the role of cycling and walking commissioner.
We’re yet to hear of similar appointment by Andy Street in the West Midlands. What’s the delay?
We call on mayors to come up with strategic spatial and transport plans that mean new housing, shops, schools and public transport stops are located close to home and designed so people can reach them easily on foot.
How are the Mayors doing?
Andy Burnham is also leading here with his announcement that he will revisit the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
He wants to see a reduction in sprawl on the greenbelt and more intensification of existing town centres. This can only be good news for creating a walkable city.
In the West Midlands we’ve seen a draft 2026 Delivery Plan for Transport and a transport plan for 2017/2018 released that do little to put walking centre stage.
We are calling on Andy Street to be more ambitious with these plans and make good on his manifesto commitment to ‘supercharge’ walking.
It is early days for the new mayors, but we’ve seen encouraging signs that walking can be taken seriously.
We’ll be keeping the pressure on all of them to deliver Walking Cities during this first mayoral term.