Living Streets is demanding action to reverse a decline in walking, on the back of new statistics showing fewer pupils are walking to school in Wales.
The Welsh Government data shows that 44% of children ‘actively traveled’ (walked or cycled) to primary school in 2016/17 – compared to 50% in 2013/14.
Living Streets also points to figures highlighting that 78% of primary school children who live less than a kilometre from their school ‘sometimes’ walk, compared to just 26% who live between 1-2 kms away.
Attributing the overall reduction to a fall in the number of children walking to school on their own or with friends, the charity is calling for a raft of safety measures to make parents and pupils ‘feel safer’.
Rachel Maycock, manager at Living Streets Cymru, said: “Wales passed its first Active Travel Act back in 2013. At the time, it seemed to be a fantastic signal that the Welsh Government had their priorities straight. But the lack of action since is evident in these disappointing figures.
“Safer crossings, school street closures and 20mph limits are all ways to help parents feel safer walking to school.”
Living Streets campaigns to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits of walking. Among its initiatives for children is ‘WOW’, a year-round challenge which rewards those who walk to school at least once a week with collectable badges.
Living Streets says the initiative can increase walking rates by 23% – with a corresponding drop in car use.
Recently, as part of WOW in the West Midlands, Andy Street, the region’s mayor, joined pupils from Glebefields Primary School (Tipton) to celebrate the strides they’ve made to get healthier (featured image).
After accompanying children and parents on their walk to school, the mayor presided over a special assembly to hand out badges to pupils.
Andy Street said: “I’m thrilled to be joining families on their walk to school and to celebrate the achievements of these pupils. It’s great to see the impact Living Streets’ work is having with so many children taking to their feet.”