This Walk to School Week (15-19 May), charity Living Streets is calling for the new Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham to prioritise making the Walk to School safer to help tackle a host of problems including child obesity, congestion and air pollution.
New research has found that over a quarter of parents in Manchester (29%) think their city is unsafe for children walking to school.
After a generation of decline in the number of children walking to primary school (from 70% to 47%), the government has recognised the importance of walking to school and set a target – to get 55 per cent walking to primary school by 2025. Living Streets is now urging Andy Burnham to support the national target.
In his manifesto, Andy Burnham committed to appoint Manchester’s first ever Active Travel Commissioner for Greater Manchester, in a step to prioritise walking and cycling across the city. He also promised to introduce a new Clean Air Action Plan for Greater Manchester and put forward a plan to modernise our local train stations, making them more accessible. Living Streets now wants him to action these commitments to make Greater Manchester a region of Walking Cities.
Joe Irvin, CEO of charity Living Streets said: “The walk to school is a great way of children getting active in the morning before school. It’s easy, free, accessible and a great way for children to get some exercise.
“It’s essential the Mayor and local authorities in Greater Manchester make all our streets, including those around schools, safe places to walk, through installing 20mph speed limits and safe crossings.
“We expect Mayor Andy Burnham to implement the pledges in his manifesto to make Greater Manchester a region of Walking Cities. We would like to see progress in the first 100 days, by making the appointment of an Active Travel Commissioner within this time.
“We know that many parents in Greater Manchester are put off walking to school because of high levels of traffic outside the school gates. The more of us walking to school, the safer conditions will be, so this week we’re asking families to give walking a go in Walk to School Week.”
This comes at a time when one in three children leave primary school overweight or obese and just one in five children achieves the recommended daily amount of physical activity.
This Walk to School Week, the charity is urging members of the public to rate their walk to school via www.livingstreets.org.uk/rateyourwalk
The Living Streets Rate Your Walk tool is designed to build a picture of where the best and worst walks are around the UK. By taking part during May, participants will be entered into a prize draw to win a UK city break.