What do we need to walk and cycle more every day?

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In 2008 the UK’s leading organisations working in public health and sustainable transport summarised what was needed to bring about a population-wide shift from inactive travel to walking and cycling. The document – Take Action on Active Travel – argues for heavy investment in walking and cycling; and the re-creation of environments where children can play in the street and adults can lead active lives. The principal call is to put into practice what policies already say.  

Promote public health: take action on active travel

We call on decision makers at all levels – UK, devolved governments, regional and local authorities to act now to bring about a population-wide shift from sedentary travel to walking and cycling:

  • set ambitious targets for a growth in walking and cycling – and ensure they are met: publish a coherent strategy for growth in walking and cycling, based on experience of what works; monitor and performance-manage progress;  give transport departments a clear public health objective, and make clear the roles of other government departments and other partners;
  • invest at a realistic level: commit 10% of transport budgets to walking and cycling immediately, and in future ensure that transport funds are allocated proportionate to the new, ambitious target levels;
  • create safe, attractive walking and cycling conditions, with coherent high- quality networks linking all everyday destinations, so that walking and cycling are faster and more convenient than motor travel, backed up by individualised travel marketing, school and workplace travel plans, practical walking promotion programmes and high- quality cycle training;
  • make 20mph or lower speed limits the norm for residential streets and those used by shoppers, tourists and others, close to schools or public buildings, or important for walking and cycling or children’s play. In urban areas only the busiest strategic traffic routes should now qualify for higher speed limits;
  • tackle bad driving, through improved driver training and awareness campaigns, backed by stronger and better enforced traffic laws;
  • ‘health check’ every transport and land use decision, focusing on the potential impact on levels of walking  and cycling and other aspects of health; invest public money to the benefit of public health, and reject proposals whose impact on walking and cycling will not be positive.

© 2014 Paths for All - Registered Scottish Charity No: SC025535, Company Limited by Guarantee No: 168554 inc. 19 Sept 1996 at Companies House, Edinburgh