The results of the annual National Travel Survey released today (31 July 2019) show the Government’s target of people walking 300 journeys a year has been exceeded, with the average person walking 347 journeys in 2018.
Living Streets is calling on the Government to set a more ambitious target for walking to meet its own environmental and health ambitions. Walking significantly reduces the risk of health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. By switching from unnecessary short car journeys, walking can help reduce air pollution, which is currently costing the UK economy £157 million every year.
Former Transport Minister, Jesse Norman MP told the Transport Select Committee that the walking target was too low. Living Streets wants new Secretary of State for Transport Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP to take heed and raise the target.
The Government needs to do more to encourage people to make walking the natural choice for local everyday journeys, starting with a more ambitious target. The last three years’ figures show it’s realistic that the average person can walk at least once a day, so we believe a target of 365 journeys a year is achievable. Walking is good for our health, the environment and our personal wellbeing.
The National Travel Survey revealed that 51 per cent of car/van trips made are under two miles (95 trips per person per year). 42 per cent of the public say they could walk these shorter car journeys (National Travel Attitudes Study 2019).
The Government has also set a target to increase the number of children walking to school to 55 per cent by 2025. The proportion of children walking to school has remained at 51 per cent, significantly down from a generation ago when 70 per cent of children walked to school.
Joe Irvin continues:
“Walking is the healthiest, most environmentally friendly way to make short journeys. Yet 95 car journeys per person, every year are less than two miles and at least 42% could be made on foot.
“With a growing crisis in health due to inactivity, air pollution and climate change, it’s more important than ever to make walking the natural choice for our local, everyday journeys – such as the walk to school.
"The Government should continue to invest in cost-effective behaviour change programmes to encourage more walking.”