Walking

Councillor Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, tells us about her experiences of #walkingfromhome in Leeds. 

Councillor Kim Groves

I’ve lived in Middleton and Belle Isle ward, Leeds, for 35 years and in the south of the city my whole life.

I’m also a ward councillor and in balancing the role with my duties as transport chair, I’ve been helping members of our community with the current situation.

This includes people who have tragically lost loved ones, those who no longer have a job, helping support families who need food parcels and residents stranded in other countries. 

Like many others, I don’t always manage to fit a daily walk around other commitments, but now more than ever I’m appreciating how such a simple act can provide a much-needed boost.   

In the last few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to explore Middleton Park with my husband on my one daily walk and I’ve enjoyed discovering new paths, listening to the birds and observing the small changes in the season, such as the bluebell displays.

Middleton Park, a 470-acre mixture of parkland and ancient woodland, is often described as the jewel in the crown of South Leeds – and for good reason. 

While working from home I can see from my window how many more people are making the most of this green space while social distancing.

It’s lovely to see so many families spending time together walking and cycling, and people discovering nature on their doorsteps, including woodpeckers in the trees and on the pond, baby ducks and coots, and even a swan nesting, the progress of which is being closely followed by the community on local social media pages. 

 

 

bluebells

There’s a real sense here, as there is up and down the country, of the community pulling together, all generations working together to keep each other safe, and the care and consideration people are showing each other while out and about is heartening. 

More people are also walking on the street, making the most of the decrease in traffic. 

Many have commented on social media about how clean and fresh the air is and how different it feels.

As a child, I can remember having the freedom to play out with my friends, skipping in the street or with a ball.

I think it’s something our children are missing out on because of our over-reliance on cars and because we have not made a conscious effort as a country to stop traffic flowing through our residential streets.   

Through our CityConnect programme, we have invested significantly to enable more people to travel on foot and by bike, which will be crucial to meeting the transport challenge created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Enabling people to move around our region in a safe way, which doesn’t lead to damaging levels of congestion on our roads, will be absolutely key to our economic recovery.

Alongside our local authority partners, we are looking at all of the options available, including how we can use the latest emergency funding to reallocate road space for walking and cycling as seen elsewhere across the UK and Europe.

 

"If physical activity were a drug, we would refer to it as a miracle cure, due to the great many illnesses it can prevent and treat."

UK Chief Medical Officers

Walking can help improve mental and physical wellbeing, tackle depression and anxiety, and connect us with our world and those around us.

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