72% of people in Wales think more time, money and resources should be invested in the path network
New research shows public support for our paths
20 September 2023
Ramblers Cymru research reveals that our paths are valued, but more investment is needed, and more needs to be done to help people access information to enjoy the outdoors.
The recent nationwide poll on the state of the path network has unveiled intriguing insights into the public's perceptions and desires concerning walking paths in Wales.
The Ramblers commissioned a YouGov conducted online poll (between 9th-14th March 2023), aimed to gauge the public's awareness of their rights and responsibilities when using paths, as well as their attitudes towards path networks and their potential improvements.
Paths are valued.
The survey found that 72% of people in Wales think more time, money and resource should be invested in the path network, with 89% agreeing that the network should be protected for future generations.
The research clearly shows that the path network is valued by the public surveyed, who overwhelmingly consider it to be a national asset that is important to them.
The value of paths to our wellbeing is also well known, with a New Economics Foundation report commissioned by the Ramblers and published this month, showing that use of England and Wales’s path networks add over 3,000 healthy years of life to their total populations. This is worth an estimated wellbeing value of £2billion.
Barriers to walking.
Sadly, even though the paths are valued and important for our wellbeing, a lack of knowledge seems to be preventing walkers from exploring them, as well as the quality of the paths with 30% of respondents stating that blocked or poorly maintained paths, such as locked gates and overgrown routes, hindered their usage, and nearly 7 out of 10 respondents (69%) believed that the path network requires improvement, indicating opportunities for enhancement in maintenance and infrastructure.
Knowledge of rights and responsibilities.
The lack of knowledge about path locations also extends into a lack of knowledge of the guidance around rights and responsibilities with only 22% knowing how to find out where they are allowed to walk. Just over half (54%) of respondents state they are confident in their knowledge of their rights and responsibilities while walking on the path network, and only 1 in 3 (33%) indicated that they are knowledgeable about the Countryside Code - highlighting the importance of education and awareness in this area.
These findings show both the challenges and opportunities of the current path network, highlighting the importance of education, accessibility, and preservation efforts.
What we want to see
Angela Charlton, director of Ramblers Cymru said: “We want to see a world-class accessible path network, that is enjoyed by well-informed, responsible walkers* that boosts our health, wellbeing, and economy at the heart of our communities.
“We have been calling on the Welsh Government to increase its investment in our path network, we are calling for the equivalent to 10% of the current active travel budget which would increase spending on these paths from about 65p per head of the population to about £1.87, which could make a huge difference.”
Alongside the investment, Ramblers Cymru would also like to see the reinstating of a consistent nationwide reporting process for the Public Rights of Way so that the quality of these paths is monitored, so that we can target areas that are worst affected and work alongside local authorities, communities, and partners to improve them.
Find out more about our pledge: www.ramblers.org.uk/ourpathsourfuture
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