Friday, October 19, 2007

Walking: a highly effective health, transport and environment policy all rolled into one!

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Today I stumbled upon a copy of a letter I'd written to the Bristol Evening Post back in June 2004. It could have been written yesterday! Where is a proper, effective and well funded strategy for walking?

10 June 2004, Bristol Evening Post Open Lines, Soapbox: Growing obesity problem demands a full strategy -

Obesity is a growing problem and the government must have proper strategy to address it, so I have a lot of sympathy for the views of C Gay and Mrs KM Borek concerning food and supermarkets ('Government must address obesity', Open Lines, June 4).

However, I would add that obesity is not just to do with the amount and types of food we put into our bodies. There is also the level and type of activity to consider.

Take the way we move around for example. About 100 yrs ago the average distance travelled per person in the UK was approximately 1,600 miles per year. Of these 1,300 miles were travelled on foot.

In contrast today we travel 10 times further, approximately 16,000 miles per year, but of this distance only 300 miles by foot.

The healthiest, most efficient and pollution-free way of travelling is on foot - but most car journeys made are less than five miles. More kids should be walking to school and more people should be walking to work.

Also, more goods and services should be available within easy walking distance.

A national walking strategy is needed to make this happen, though no political party, the Greens aside, has taken this remotely seriously, despite the fact that it would be a highly effective health, transport and environment policy rolled into one.