A new campaigning group that aims to make the walking environment in Bristol more welcoming, safe, convenient and inclusive launched at the Watershed on 17 May. The Bristol Walking Alliance is a collective of organisations and individuals who believe that walking is a vital mode of transport.
The audience of over 100 people heard talks on the health benefits of walking, Bristol’s walking strategy, how community groups can make a difference and how to improve the walking environment for all.
Almost a fifth of Bristol’s residents walk to work, the highest proportion of any core city, and the number increased by 40 per cent between 2001 and 2011. Walking is part of almost every journey, too often in surroundings that are unpleasant and unsafe, particularly for the most vulnerable.
Street design that works well for pedestrians creates towns and cities that people enjoy and want to live in, and reduces social isolation. In walking-friendly towns and cities, people are healthier, high streets thrive and everyone’s quality of life improves.
The Bristol Walking Alliance’s goal is to make Bristol the best city for walking in the world, and to create an environment for those on foot that is:
The alliance wants transport expenditure on improving the walking environment to be clearly identified and to increase by 10 per cent a year.
Read the Bristol Walking Alliance manifesto (pdf).
Members of the alliance include the Bristol Health Partners SHINE HIT (Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments Health Integration Team), Bristol Civic Society, Bristol Ramblers, Living Streets, Road Peace, Sustrans, Transport for Greater Bristol, and local community and neighbourhood partnerships.
Dr Suzanne Audrey, SHINE Director and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, said:
“The official launch of the Bristol Walking Alliance is a watershed moment. The seeds of the alliance were sown at 2015’s Bristol Walking Festival, where I asked the question ‘Is walking a neglected mode of transport?’ We have since galvanised as a group which represents the interests of walkers in Bristol – and let’s face it, that is pretty much everybody in the city. Through our collective action I think we can make a real difference.”
There was a lot of activity on Twitter on #BristolWalkAll, showing that attendees were fully engaged in the evening’s talks.