Walking should be the natural, everyday choice, whether for shorter trips or as part of longer journeys according to the Essex Walking Strategy published today (correct date here).
Short car trips are on the increase resulting in poorer air quality, more congestion, and a more sedentary population. County residents might assume that driving is always the most convenient choice, but studies have shown, it often isn’t.
The aim of the Essex County Council Walking Strategy is to reverse this trend and make us think about our trip and whether we really need to drive.
In addition, the strategy raises awareness of the many benefits of walking as well as spotlighting opportunities for ECC to encourage and facilitate more journeys on foot.
Full details of the Walking Strategy can be found here: https://www.essexhighways.org/safer-greener-healthier-walking
Cllr Sue Lissimore, Essex County Council Deputy Cabinet Member for Sustainable Travel, said: “Walking is the easiest type of travel and yet many of us don’t walk enough. It is so natural that we often don’t even consider it a form of transport. However, in our busy lives, we may have undervalued the most fundamental way of getting around.
“Leisure walking is a great way to start, then taking it further to walk to local shops. Once this has been achieved you can then think about every short journey, asking yourself: ‘Can I now walk it?’
“Our Walking Strategy is a plan to get more of us walking on our network of footways and paths in our rural areas, towns, cities and neighbourhoods and is a key component of our safer, greener, healthier campaign to encourage Essex residents to travel sustainably. Not only does this improve the environment but it helps us achieve our strategic priority to improve the health of people in Essex.”
The Strategy follows the recent publication of an active travel survey in which almost three quarters (74%) of respondents supported prioritising and increasing space for walking across the county with 31% stating that they would like to walk more for leisure now that Covid restrictions have been lifted.
The Walking Strategy sets out objectives and priorities to 2025 in order to provide a policy framework that will promote more walking and better walking networks. These include:
- Increasing walking for everyday trips – with the aim for 400 walking trips (for travel) per person per year by 2025 where the average trip is approximately 1km or 10 minutes duration.
- Improving road safety for pedestrians – so that pedestrian needs are prioritised in all infrastructure projects.
- Enabling physical activity and walking for health – with the aim that residents achieve two 10-minute sessions of physical activity per day via active travel.
- Enabling more walking to schools – by encouraging more walking to schools through behaviour change programmes.
- Promoting walking for leisure – by encouraging social walks in greenspace to link individuals and reduce isolation.
To accompany the launch of the Essex Walking Strategy, a new walking video has been launched and can be viewed here: https://www.essexhighways.org/safer-greener-healthier-walking
Cllr Peter Schwier | Deputy Cabinet Member to the Leader / Climate Csar
Hedingham Division, Essex County Council
Renewal, Equality and Ambition