Walk more in May to mark National Walking Month

Fri, 05/05/2023 - 17:00

Essex County Council funds primary schools across the county to take part in Walk to School week.

The sustainable transport team at Essex County Council (ECC) is urging residents to take part in National Walking Month coordinated by walking charity Living Streets.

This includes Walk to School week, running from 15 and 19 May, which has the theme this year of “Walk with Wildlife”.

The County Council is funding 23 primary schools to take part in the event, the equivalent of 243 classes and an estimated 7,290 pupils. Encouraging residents to walk rather than use their cars for shorter journeys is part of ECC’s ambition to make Essex safer, greener and healthier.

After securing Active Travel 2 funding, ECC has implemented a number of infrastructure projects across five locations - Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Colchester and Wickford - all of which have been designed to make the road network safer and more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.

Healthy school streets have also been introduced along Sawyers Hall Lane and Middleton Hall Lane in Brentwood, Lancaster Way and Gilchrist Avenue in Braintree and Lexden Road in Colchester.

Temporary street art, 20mph signage, new ‘pencil’ bollards and resurfaced or widened pavements have been installed to alert drivers to slow down and encourage parents or carers and their children to walk, cycle or scoot to school.

In addition, the team have funded walking and nature app GoJauntly, who have curated over 100 Essex walks. Nearly 1 million people have been reached via the app with over 14,000 residents inspired to walk more locally.

Over 213 million steps were walked as part of the recent 3k Steps a Day walking challenge, the equivalent of walking 25 times around the radius of the Earth. This equates to a carbon saving of over 40,000kg in emissions and a saving of £6,378.20 of petrol by walking instead of driving*.

Cllr Lee Scott, ECC Cabinet Member for Highways Maintenance and Sustainable Transport, said: “For many people, 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.

“Walking is one of the easiest ways to improve physical and mental health and by swapping a short drive for a short walk, you can help reduce air pollution and congestion – and save yourself money and keep active in the process.”

Hana Sutch, Go Jauntly's Co-founder and CEO, said: “Walking more is good for you and the planet. Squeezing exercise into busy lifestyles is hard but by changing a few small habits such as walking to school, ditching the car for short trips or walking the scenic route from A to B, you can easily build more activity into your life.

“It's been brilliant to be able to work across Essex; the county has so much to offer, from sweeping coastlines, to pretty towns and villages and amazing public art plus good public transport. It's hard to believe there isn't a better place to walk."