Living Streets' Chief Executive has been named in the New Year Honours list 2020.

Joe Irvin receives an OBE for his services to walking, active travel and the wider charity sector. Since joining Living Streets in 2014, Joe has successfully raised the profile of the charity and the rights of pedestrians.

Joe was part of the successful campaign which saw the UK Government’s first-ever Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, and also helped forge a Walking and Cycling Alliance to join forces across active travel.

With Joe at the helm, Living Streets has celebrated many other successes which make lives easier for people walking and encourage healthier and cleaner ways to travel. Each year, nearly one million children walk to school through Living Streets’ award-winning walk to school campaign, including WOW –the year-round walk to school challenge. Whilst Living Streets’ UK-wide local projects allow people of all ages and abilities to overcome barriers to walking.

2019 saw the charity celebrate its 90th anniversary with a review of the Highway Code to make life safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and a decision to ban pavement parking in Scotland.

Joe Irvin CEO

Joe Irvin, OBE, Chief Executive, Living Streets said:

“I’m honoured to be awarded an OBE for my work in promoting walking, active travel and wider charity causes. This is recognition that making our streets safer and more attractive for walking and cycling is vital for our health and our environment.

“I’d like to think I share this honour with everyone I’ve worked alongside in the wider charity world through Living Streets, the Walking and Cycling Alliance, ACEVO, NAVCA, RSPB, Charityworks, Child Poverty Action Group and Voluntary Action Islington.

“I’ve always been motivated by helping others whether in my charity work, in public service or in trade unions. In turbulent times it is salutary to stop and recognise the great positivity, generosity and kindness that people involved in the voluntary sector bring.”

I am thrilled that Joe has been honoured for his tireless and highly effective work to promote active travel - it is so very richly deserved. Joe has had a real impact on the public debate with active travel now widely recognised as being key to reducing our impact on the environment and to keeping us all safe and healthy.

Dame Jane Roberts, Chair of Living Streets

Walking, a key to personal health and protection of the planet, has never been more important, as Joe's timely honour shows.

Terence Bendixson, President of Living Streets
Joe walking


Joe Irvin is Chief Executive of Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking. The 90-year-old charity that brought us zebra crossings, is known nowadays for WOW – the year-round walk to school challenge. Joe has been closely involved in updating the Highway Code to improve road safety.

Joe was a Chair and Trustee of the charity umbrella body ACEVO and CEO at NAVCA. Between 1997 and 2010 Joe acted as adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister, and later in the Prime Minister’s office. Joe also worked for the RSPB, the TGWU union and the TUC.

In government he worked on the 1998 Transport White Paper, the Kyoto UN climate change agreement and ‘right to roam’ legislation.

Joe is a Trustee of Voluntary Action Islington, has been a judge on the Guardian Charity Awards and Charity Times awards, and an advisory to Charityworks, Child Poverty Action Group, and Apex Trust.

Joe was born in Fleetwood, Lancashire, brought up in Preston, educated at state schools, Oxford University, South Bank University and Birkbeck College. He now lives in London with his family of two children.

He is a Fellow of the RSA and is a member of the Department for Transport’s advisory group on cycling and walking.