For the first time ever, the Government has laid down in law a commitment to act upon the decline in people walking.
National charity Living Streets is celebrating the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy being made into law as a positive step towards walking and calling for this commitment to be matched by the government earmarking funds in the upcoming Spending Review.
People today walk almost a third less than they did just twenty years ago. Whilst for our grandparent’s generation, walking to school was the norm, nowadays it’s becoming more and more uncommon. This is a serious issue and one that, until now, hadn’t been taken seriously enough.
Tompion Platt, Head of Policy at Living Streets says: “Most of us say we’d walk more if it was safer, more attractive or more convenient. And when we walk, it’s good for us. It’s also good for our local economy and for the environment.”
Inactivity is responsible for 17 per cent of early deaths in the UK. It increases the risk of serious illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, and makes it more likely that people will be overweight or obese.
Platt says: “As our lives become more sedentary, we are growing fatter and unhealthier and generally costing the NHS and the tax player an awful lot of money (an estimated cost of £8.2 billion per year to England’s economy).
“As our population gets older and we need more care, we’re getting more and more expensive. In fact we’re becoming unaffordable – there’s a very real danger that if we can’t improve the health of 40-60 year olds now, we’re going to bankrupt the NHS of the future.
“Because of all this, the buzz word right now in health is prevention. And that means getting people more active.”
The government has already made a big step by committing to reverse the decline in walk to school (by getting 55 per cent of children walking by 2025). Now, with the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy being laid down in law, it has committed for the first time to set out a long term plan for improving walking and cycling for everyone.
“As you might expect, the details in all this will decide whether this really is the beginning of the step change we so urgently require, to reverse the decline in walking,” says Platt. “Organisations like Living Streets will be doing all they can to make sure that the final strategy is the kind of ambitious game changer that’s needed.”