We welcome the Government’s announcement and launch of, ‘Gear Change, the cycling and walking plan for England’, which sets out its plans to promote walking and cycling and the creation of Active Travel England.
The pandemic has highlighted, more than ever, the value of walking and cycling to health, wellbeing and the environment and we support measures designed to encourage active travel wherever possible.
Many of Britain’s historic canal towpaths saw an increase in local usage during lockdown as people stayed at home and discovered these green/blue linear parks for their daily exercise and wellbeing on their doorstep.
Given that walking is the most common, cost-free, equitable and sustainable form of travel, it is important that equal funding is provided for walking alongside improved cycling infrastructure, with an acknowledgement of the different needs of these different users, and with importance placed upon both.
Our towpaths provide traffic-free routes in and through many of the country’s towns and cities, connecting people and places. They have the added benefit of providing green/blue space which can improve people’s wellbeing. Our towpaths are also within easy reach of some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities, providing an accessible environment for those most likely to suffer from obesity, type 2 diabetes and poor mental health.
We look forward to working with Active Travel England and all other relevant partners to ensure that our towpaths play a central role in helping people become more active, with more communities walking and cycling, to take advantage of the health and wellbeing benefits which are available for free, right on their doorstep.