Well-maintained pavements “make the biggest difference” in encouraging people to walk

12.28 | 23 March 2023 | |

We need to make our urban environments attractive and safe to get people walking more, according to Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England.

In a video address at Living Streets’ National Walking Summit in Leeds, Mr Whitty said that walking is an important tool for helping people of all ages improve their physical and mental health.

In his presentation, he pointed to National Attitudes Survey data, which showed that people would walk more if they had well-maintained pavements (74%), safer roads (45%), more and safer crossings (44%) and direct walking routes (43%).  

Mr Whitty also presented data which showed a strong correlation between geographical areas with worse health outcomes and areas where people walk the least.

He said: “The best forms of exercise are things people can enjoy and build into their daily lives. Walking is practical, free and good for people’s health. It’s a critical tool that people of all ages can use to improve physical and mental health.

“National Attitudes Survey data suggest that well-maintained pavements make the biggest difference in encouraging people to walk more. This is particularly important in urban areas which have the lowest walking rates and are clustered in areas of deprivation. Making the environment attractive and safe is really important to get people walking more.”

Professor Whitty was joined by Tracy Brabin, mayor of West Yorkshire, who spoke about the improvements for walking and cycling being delivered across the region.

She said: “Walking must be at the heart and start of our everyday journeys, whether that’s for short trips or as part of a longer journey by public transport.

“And that’s why we’re investing millions into our transport network, encouraging people out of their cars. We’re very proud of our longstanding partnership with Living Streets, working with schools, communities and businesses across our region to get more people walking.”

The one-day event, titled ‘Rethinking walking – delivering targets and transforming places for all’, takes places today (23 March) at the University of Leeds.



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