Ahead of the Senedd elections on Thursday 6 May 2021 Living Streets Cymru jointly organised a hustings event with Cycling UK Cymru on 23 March.
The event was chaired by the BBC’s Mark Hutchings and allowed attendees to ask Senedd candidates about their party’s vision for walking and cycling in Wales.
The panel included:
Anthony Slaughter from the Green Party was also due to join the event but had to withdraw at short notice.
Scroll down to watch the hustings event
Opening the event, Living Streets CEO Mary Creagh and Cycling UK CEO Sarah Mitchell outlined their organisations’ manifesto asks before Senedd candidates spoke about their commitment to active travel.
Mary Creagh said that “everyone in Wales should be able to live an active healthy and easy life without a car” and called on Senedd candidates to commit to creating walkable neighbourhoods to reduce car dependency, tackle loneliness, reduce pollution and to get more people walking.
At Living Streets “we believe we can reimagine our cities, towns and villages. We can end car dominance and ensure that everyone can walk or cycle their everyday journeys in safety.”
All candidates agreed that safety, accessibility and infrastructure are integral to increasing walking and cycling.
Helen Mary Jones said that cycling and walking “should be normal modes of transport, and we have got to the point where they are not for many people".
She highlighted the need for safe shared spaces for women pedestrians and cyclists and the importance of making active travel work in rural areas and pointed out that more families would like to walk their children to school but that it’s not always safe or realistic to do so.
Mia Rees said that change “doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and there does need to be an attitudinal shift, and I think once cycling is genuinely for everybody and walking is genuinely safe, then people are more likely to do it”.
Mia praised the success of School Streets schemes which close the streets around schools to traffic at drop off and pick up times and encourage families to walk or cycle some or all of the journey. She also supported pocket parks or parklets, where small parts of residential streets are reclaimed by the community for people to stop, rest and enjoy.
Lee Waters talked about Welsh Labour’s commitment to active travel citing the new 20mph default speed for urban roads in Wales which will come into effect in 2023. He said that Welsh Labour would give local authorities more powers to tackle pavement parking and design guidance for active travel and highlighted the need to “reach out to all groups as we consult and build new infrastructure”.
David Wilkins said that that investing in active travel will lead to safer and happier pedestrians and cyclists and that design and planning needs to be inclusive for all groups, especially disabled people.
He said that there is a view that if you do not have a car “you are looked down on as a member of society. That’s where we need to focus our energy: on making cycling not ‘eccentric’ and making walking ‘everyday’.”
Living Streets Cymru and Cycling UK Cymru are asking Senedd candidates to show their support for their manifestos.
People on foot feel relaxed and safe
This means investing in street improvements, road space reallocation to walking and cycling, a default 20mph speed limit in urban areas, a ban on pavement parking and more, safer road crossings.
People can breathe clean air
By prioritising the climate emergency, implementing a Clean Air Act for Wales, introducing Clean Air Zones around all Welsh schools, delivering anti-idling measures and planning for more urban green spaces and green corridors where people can walk and cycle, contributing towards a goal of net zero carbon emissions in our towns and cities.
Families choose to walk to school and work
By setting ambitious targets for children walking to school and for adults choosing active travel at least three times a week and investing in active travel in Wales to at least £20 per head to ensure routes to school and work are safer, cleaner and less congested.
We’re also asking everyone to contact their local candidates asking them to commit to prioritising walking if elected. You can find your local candidates and write to them using our simple online form.
You can read the Cycling UK Cymru manifesto here.