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Most people in Wales support reallocating road space to improve walking and cycling

04 Jun 2023 3 minute read
National Cycle Network Route 4, near Swansea. Picture by rvsrvs (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The majority of people in Wales support reallocating road space in their local area for walking and cycling, according to a new survey conducted by Public Health Wales (PHW).

The Time to Talk Public Health panel revealed that 75 per cent of respondents backed reallocating roads to walking and 68 per cent to cycling.

The survey also found an appetite for active travel, with 64 per cent of those surveyed saying they are interested and 21 per cent very interested, in increasing the amount of active travel they do.

“Active travel” describes using activities such as walking or cycling as a means of transport to get to places such as school, work or shops.

The top three reasons why people would choose active travel are to improve their physical health (73 percent), to improve their mental health and well-being (60 percent), and to save money on fuel costs (40 percent).

30 per cent of people reported concern about road safety as a reason why they might find it difficult to use active travel and 27 per cent of people said a lack of facilities, such as walking and cycling paths, was a reason why they might find it difficult to travel actively.

Landmark legislation to promote active travel (Active Travel Wales Act) was passed in 2013, however, the ambition of the Act has not yet been realised.

Positive step

Responding to the survey’s results, Dr Paul Pilkington, Consultant in Public Health leading on physical activity at PHW said: “Walking is the simplest way to undertake active travel, and while it is a positive step to see 25 percent of people walking every day as a means of active travel, and a further 34 percent walking several times a week, we are working to identify innovative ways to support the public to make it easier to choose active travel over their cars to increase these numbers.

“Active travel offers such a wide range of benefits across society. Individually it boosts physical and mental health. Collectively, it reduces the demand on our health service of treating many preventable illnesses, and contributes to reductions in traffic congestion, cleaner air, and fewer road traffic collisions.”

Engaging in active travel can make a sizeable contribution to reaching the four UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs) physical activity guidelines.

The survey revealed that while only 20 percent of people in Wales had heard of the CMOs’ guidelines, 32 percent knew the recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, with a further 40 percent having a vague idea.

However, 65 percent had not heard of the recommendation to do muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days per week.

Dr Catherine Sharp, Public Health Researcher who leads the Panel on behalf of Public Health Wales, said: “This is the first national data in Wales for us to understand awareness levels of the CMOs’ physical activity guidelines since the updated guidelines were published in 2019.

“Knowing the awareness of the guidelines and each of the recommendations is important as it can inform the communication approaches and content on physical activity for the public. This information shows how the Time to Talk Public Health panel can provide important and timely insight on public health issues to inform action.”

1,051 panel members responded to The Time to Talk Public Health survey conducted in April 2023 which asked Welsh residents (16+ years) their views on a range of health-related subjects such as physical activity, active travel, menopause, climate change and shingles.

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Syr Wynff ap Concor Y Boss

Who the heck did they ask?
Must be folk in built up areas. In rural areas, cyclists in particular are a pain in the proverbials.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
10 months ago

I do so agree with you! The survey must have been directed very carefully towards the known sympathetic demographic. I never saw it and I’m a road user – but I drive so probably my views can be dismissed. The very notion of ‘reallocating road space’ from private and commercial vehicles is crazy and irresponsible. It was probably a leading question in the survey and leapt upon with cries of triumph by the anti-motoring lobby it was chiefly circulated amongst! If Wales becomes a no-go area for normal traffic, I don’t see the tourist benefits from cycling covering the commercial… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Philip Davies
Iwan ap Rees
Iwan ap Rees
10 months ago

I live in a rural area in Ceredigion and I would say that a majority of people agree with this, or think in this way. I think that until you’ve lived in a county like Ceredigion it’s difficult to understand how difficult it is to get around without public transport, and the farming communities have been left with little access to safe cycle paths to support them and grow the economy in a more sustainable way. I do think that the politicians in Ceredigion aren’t listening and there are some places that would really benefit from better cycle routes like… Read more »

10 months ago
Reply to  Iwan ap Rees

nowhere in the article does it suggest that the application of cycle routes will be in a one size fits all. Councils should be listening to communities across Wales in order to inform how cycling infrastructure – as well as public transport – is developed

10 months ago

Are they going to allocate a lane in the BrynGlas tunnels maybe – you know to get us fitter – all for our own good… Add by all means, widen the verges nicely like they do in Mallorca etc, but do not take away. Go for harmony without destroying/reducing what we have.

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