WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
`Walking the way to health' initiative
"Walking the way to health" is an
initiative of the British Heart Foundation and the Countryside
Agency. It benefits from extra funding from the New Opportunities
Fund and sponsorship from Kia Cars as part of their "Think
Before you Drive" campaign. The initiative aims to improve
the health and fitness of more than a million people, especially
those who do little exercise or who live in areas of poor health.
The initiative started in England in October 2000 and will run
for five years.
Health Walks, Sonning Common
The "Health walks" project was set
up by Dr Williams Bird, a GP in the Village of Sonning Common
in Oxfordshire. The aim of the project is to improve people's
fitness and well-being by encouraging them to use their local
countryside for walking to achieve a greater level of fitness.
The project started nearly five years ago and the walks have been
running for nearly four years. To date over 1,750 walks have been
organised and over 800 local people have taken part. Information
gathered from the walks is used by Oxford Brookes University School
for Health Care Studies to evaluate the effect walking has on
Sonning Common: reported barriers to walking
People did not think that walking
was proper exercise.
Concern about getting lost.
Over 70 per cent of the women felt
vulnerable when out alone.
Health walks: the positive impact.
People now walk for short journeys
rather than use their cars.
Increased awareness of fitness levels.
Knowledge of the benefits of brisk
Awareness of the benefits of regular
Health walks: Reported health benefits.
About ten per cent reported decrease
levels of illness.
About 25 per cent reported reduced
their stress levels.
About 60 per cent reported higher
About 55 per cent reported higher
Source: Health Walks, Sonning Common, http://www.healthwalks.freeserve.co.uk/
The Green Gym
The Green Gym is a unique health group that
exercises its participants in the countryside or open spaces.
It offers a new way to get fit and healthy, providing an exciting
alternative for people who may not like the idea of joining a
sports centre or gym. Spending time outside with the Green Gym
is known to reduce stress levels and in addition to improving
health, provides the opportunity of meeting new people and learning
Sustainable Access to Leisure Sites and Amenities
(SALSA) Project, London Borough of Ealing
The Sustainable Access to Leisure Sites and
Amenities (SALSA) project has a primary aim of reducing the number
of short urban leisure trips (primarily "escort" trips)
undertaken by car, in targeted areas of the London Borough of
The project sought to achieve this reduction
in car based trips by increasing the level of children's independent
mobility and activity levels, through the provision of networks
of safe routes for walking and cycling. The design of these routes
was based upon extensive and innovative methods of community consultation
and participation to ensure they met the requirements of the prospective
users and helped to overcome the existing barriers to sustainable
Source: Sustainable Access to Leisure Sites
and Amenities (SALSA) Project, London Borough of Ealing
Walking Bus, Wheatfield School, St Albans, Hertfordshire
The "school run" has been highlighted
as a major concern in previous Government policy papers. Solutions
such as the Walking Bus at Wheatfield School in St Albans, Hertfordshire
The "bus" is two volunteer parentsone
to "drive" and one to "conduct", a trolley
to carry school bags and instruments and a line of school children
in reflective clothing. The bus is "driven" with leg
power. There are "bus stops" where children can join
the walk. Pupils get a sticker every time they use the "bus",
which can be exchanged for stationery and books at the school
bookshop. The Walking Bus keeps children and parent volunteers
fit and reduces traffic and fumes near school.
Source: "The only way to travel",
Guardian Education, November 1998
Moneyrea Primary School, Northern Ireland
The first Walking Bus in Northern Ireland; a
Department of Environment Road Safety Initiative, started up recently
at Moneyrea Primary School.
The children each receive a membership card
which is stamped every time they join the bus. When they have
collected a set number, they received a prize, motivating them
to keep walking. It's stamp collecting with a differencegiving
both children and the environment a chance of a cleaner bill of
health and safety.
Source: "Catching onwalking buses
beat the school run.", Interactive, May/June 2000
Involving Young Citizens Equally (IYCE) Initiative,
Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council
The IYCE Initiative was established in 1997
to develop ways in which children and young people could influence
the practice, provision and policy development of local public
services. IYCE is a partnership between Kirklees Metropolitan
Borough Council, Calerdale and Kirklees Health Authority and Save
the Children Fund. The initiative revolves around changing services
from within, to create long-term cultural change, which values
the involvement of children and young people as a routine way
The initiative explored ways in which the Highways
service could involve children in service planning and delivery.
Four separate methods of consultation were chosen in order to
find out the children's own opinion on their route to school.
In each school a core group of pupils was established
although every child was given an opportunity to participate.
The following methods were used:
Graffiti Wall: each child within
the school was given pieces of paper which resembled bricks. Each
child was then asked to write down on the brick issues about their
route to school. The bricks were then placed onto a large wall
Peer video interviews: the core group
devised their own questions to find out other children's' opinions
of their journeys to and from school. The core group acted as
the interviewers and video camera operator.
Suggestion slip: each child was asked
to tick boxes to say if they agreed with the views of the core
group. The children were then asked to write down anything else
that they thought could be improved on their journey to and from
Prioritising with photographs: photographs
were taken of nine areas of concern discussed by the core group.
Each class was visited in turn and the children were asked to
prioritise the two issues that were most important to themselves,
with coloured stickers.
The Safe Routes to School pilot project started
as a highways service project, however it became evident that
probably half the issues would require joint working with other
services and agencies to resolve them.
Children's awareness of their immediate surroundings
has grown through their involvement in this project.
The key issues appear to be litter and lack
of litter bins on routes, hypodermic needles seen on routes, directing
cars away from school or slowing them down and additional assisted
crossing areas such as school crossing patrols and pelican/zebra
Source: "Safe Routes to School" Newsletter
No. 13, Sustrans, Autumn 2000
Don't Choke Britain
Don't Choke Britain is a campaign that attempts
to raise public awareness of the problems of congestion and pollution
caused by the current unsustainable growth in road traffic. Government
forecasts in 1997 suggested that over the next 20 years car traffic
could grow by more than a third, van and lorry traffic is forecast
to grow even faster. Don't Choke Britain encourages people to
try an alternative to the car, to travel to and from work at least
once a week during the month of June.
The national campaign is managed through an
Advisory Group which includes representatives from the Passenger
Transport Executive Group, DETR, the Local Government Association,
Environment Agency, Unison, Environmental Transport Association,
Cyclists Tourists Club, Highways Agency, the Pedestrians Association,
British Lung Foundation and the SMMT. The campaign message has
always been to encourage motorists to try, at least once a week
during the month of June, an alternative to the car to travel
to and from work. The alternatives includes not just the bus,
train or Metro but walking or cycling, as well as car sharing.
If there are no alternatives to using the car then motorists could
try making their journeys outside of the rush hour when there
should be less stopping and starting and hence less pollution.
Greenways and Quiet Roads
Greenways and Quiet Roads are two initiatives
from the Countryside Agency which aim to give better mobility
and access for people on foot, bike or horseback or for people
with disabilities. Greenways are a network of largely car free
off-road routes connecting people to facilities and open spaces
in and around towns, cities and to the countryside.
Quiet roads are minor rural roads, already lightly
trafficked where extra traffic measures will improve their attractiveness
for non-motorised users.
Both initiatives are part of the Countryside
Agency's transport work and will assist integrated transport policies.