Living Streets Cymru today (1 October 2020) launched A Manifesto for Walking at a virtual event with Huw Irranca-Davies MS, Chair of the Cross Party Group on the Active Travel Act, Dafydd Trystan, Chair of the Active Travel Board for Wales.

Living Streets Cymru wants politicians who are elected in the Senedd Cymru 2021 elections to invest in making walking safer, commit to improving air quality and make it easier for families to walk to school and work.

Many of us have enjoyed walking as Wales navigates through the coronavirus pandemic with 59% of Welsh adults saying they had walked for leisure in the last week in a survey conducted in May 2020. However, people continue to struggle with narrow, uneven pavements, unsafe crossings; and growing numbers of vehicles parked on pavements.

Wales is in the midst of climate, air pollution, public health and road safety crises and an estimated 1,000 to 1,400 deaths each year are attributable to human-made air pollution. One third of adults in Wales do no physical activity and severe obesity in children is rising. People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and low-income groups – who are already at greater risk from air pollution – have been disproportionately affected by the disease, and social isolation for older people and those living with disabilities has got worse.

In Living Streets’ 2020 survey, the top three problems identified for walking in Wales were: pavement parking (reported by 68%); poor public transport (reported by 60%); and fast or dangerous traffic (reported by 57%). In addition to this, 99% of people said the Welsh Government should encourage more people to walk to school with their children, while 87% of people said we should improve the air quality in city centres by banning or charging motor vehicles. 

 

Father and son walking

The manifesto event was chaired by Living Streets’ Chief Executive Mary Creagh with additional speakers Russell George MS, Shadow Minister for the Economy and Transport and spokesperson for the Welsh Conservatives, Councillor Rodney Berman OBE, Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for Cardiff Central, and Anthony Slaughter, Wales Green Party Leader.

Huw Irranca-Davies MS, Chair of the Cross Party Group on the Active Travel Act, supported the manifesto asks. He said:

“Active travel is so important and we must support the people who don’t currently walk or cycle in order to shift their behaviour. We need to further develop safe routes to schools, 20mph will be the default speed limit tackle the barriers that pavement parking causes.”

“Overall, we need to make walking easier and the prioritisation of pedestrian crossing times would help. In Wales, we say that it’s the pethau bychain, the little things, that make all the difference.”

Rhiannon Hardiman, Manager, Living Streets Cymru, says:

“Walking is the oldest and easiest exercise and it has so many benefits: it keeps us fit, it’s good for our mental health and it helps reduce air pollution. And yet there are many barriers that prevent people from walking and that’s why we need to make our streets and pavements safer – and prioritise people over cars.

“We have unacceptable road danger, a climate change crisis, toxic levels of air pollution and a crisis in public health due to our sedentary lifestyle. Walking more and driving less is part of the solution - and that requires safer streets.

“In the run up to the Senedd 2021 election, we want politicians to commit to creating walkable neighbourhoods, reducing car dependency, tackling loneliness, improving air quality and getting more people walking. This, in turn, can lead to safer, happier and healthier communities.”

Living Streets Cymru is calling on all politicians in Wales to pledge to make sure that:

  • People on foot feel relaxed and safe. 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. Prioritise the climate emergency, implement 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. Set ambitious targets for children walking to school and for adults choosing active travel at least three times a week. Investment in active travel in Wales should be at least £20 per head. Ensure routes to school and work are safer, cleaner and less congested.

 

 

 

 

Active travel is so important and we must support the people who don’t currently walk or cycle in order to shift their behaviour. We need to further develop safe routes to schools, 20mph will be the default speed limit tackle the barriers that pavement parking causes.

Huw Irranca-Davies MS, Chair of the Cross Party Group on the Active Travel Act

A Manifesto for Walking

Older couple walking


Living Streets is calling on parents, teachers and anyone concerned about safety around the school gates to write to their local school and council via our online form, urging them to invest in School Streets.

You can also download a toolkit which will help you to organise a School Street in your area. 

 

READ OUR MANIFESTO

More about our manifesto asks