Here at Living Streets, we want to make walking safer and easier for everyone. By creating better, more accessible streets and public places designed for people, walking will become more enjoyable and people will choose to walk further and more often.
Getting more people walking has a lot of benefits, both for individuals and society as a whole. Although we all walk, as pedestrians we don't have a monopoly on many British town centre roads. This would change if we walked further and more often. Additional people on the streets results in fewer cars on the roads, which in turn results in fewer casualties. There would subsequently be lower congestion and better air quality.
More walkers would help to boost local businesses. A 33% increase in footfall to local high streets can boost spending by between 20-40%.
Additionally, both mental and physical health improves with more walking, as each step we take uses 200 muscles. In the workplace, this has been shown to reduce the rate of absenteeism, increase productivity and improve morale.
Sadly, walking trips are down 30 per cent since 1995. Whether a trip is made for going out to the local shops, walking to school/work or walking for leisure, walking is declining as a mode of transport, leaving many of our roads congested.
So what can we do? At Living Streets we're the first to admit that walking everywhere isn't convenient. Some journeys are just far too far to get to by walking alone – but it's still possible to get more walking into your day with a few simple changes. Get off the bus a stop earlier, park your car a bit further away, go for a walk at lunchtime to get some fresh air.
Not only will it help you to keep your body and mind healthier, it will also help to trigger a change in how our streets and spaces are planned. If we want local councils to put more money into making cities walkable, we need to show them that we want them!
May is Living Streets National Walking Month, so the perfect time to try on old or new boots and walk more throughout the day.
If you want to help us make streets safer, more enjoyable places join us and walk this May. To find events happening near you or for more information about Living Streets visit www.livingstreets.org.uk/nwm.
Regional PR and communications coordinator, Living Streets