The Ramblers welcomes the government’s ambition to kick start an active travel revolution and calls for more dedicated support for walking to create greener routes in our towns and cities.
Today’s announcement, combined with recent government action to increase funding for walking and cycling through the Emergency Active Travel Fund, will help to build on this groundswell of support for better infrastructure for walking and cycling. Gear Change, the cycling and walking plan for England, sets out the government’s ambition for walking and cycling, through the establishment of Active Travel England.
Gemma Cantelo, head of policy and advocacy, said:
“The pandemic has shown just how much we value walking – the most popular and accessible form of exercise. Today’s announcement is an important step towards making the places we live better for walking, and healthy, happy places to grow up and grow old. With recent polling showing strong public support for measures to enable more walking and cycling, the time is right for a revolution in how we design and plan the places we live, work and relax.
“There’s much to welcome in today’s announcement -- long term budgets for walking and cycling, funding for low traffic neighbourhoods, new mini-hollands, more school streets and a low emission city. Steps to improve the safety of walkers are also welcome -- from plans to change the highway code to give priority to pedestrians, to a move away from shared space for walkers and cyclists.
“This is a critical opportunity to increase walking and improve infrastructure for walking and not just for cycling. Increasing access to urban green routes must be part of any government vision for walking and cycling. Access to high quality green space and green routes away from traffic increases the attractiveness of walking, and its benefits to our health and wellbeing should be available to everyone, everywhere. That’s why we’d like to see increased support for recreational walking in our towns and cities, with funding to establish green urban routes, joined up plans for improving public rights of way and ‘greening’ active travel, and expanded programmes to get communities walking.”
The forthcoming Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will set out in greater detail how this vision for active travel will be delivered, and we will be urging government to champion walking. It’s accessible to all ages and abilities, requires no specialist equipment and remains a popular and sustainable means of travel, particularly for short journeys, but the infrastructure is often taken for granted.
The Ramblers will continue to work with our partners in the Walking and Cycling Alliance to boost investment and increase support for walking and cycling, ahead of this autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
You can find out more about our work on this issue by visiting the Green Routes section of our website
Ramblers Walking For Health, run with support from Sport England, develops walks that are accessible to people who have done little or no exercise before, or who need support to stay active. It is England's largest network of health walk schemes, with 8,300 volunteers, ensuring people who need the most support to get and stay active.
The Ramblers’ work to help everyone enjoy the benefits of walking and protect and expand the places we love to walk – including work to grow and maintain the Ramblers Routes collection – is supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.