Can Scotland become the world’s friendliest walking country?

21 April 2019

Photograph: Pixabay

Let’s get Scotland walking

Scotland aims to be many things in the world, and one of its recent ambitions is to be known globally as a walking-friendly nation.

This may become possible through the renewed “Let’s Get Scotland Walking action plan, a national walking strategy that aims to create a Scotland where everyone walks more each day. The plan aims to get people walking to work, to school, and for health and well-being and wants to ensure they can do so in safe and welcoming environments.

The revamped National Walking Strategy Action Plan which was revised in March 2019 by Paths for All, has now taken on a collaborative approach and has the backing of a huge range of partners from local authorities to third sector organisations such as Healthier Scotland, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Cycling Scotland, Greenspace Scotland and Sport Scotland to assist it in its delivery.

The strategy has identified that walking has a key role to play in protecting the environment and dealing with transport congestion and air pollution and is an effective and greener way to travel for everyday short journeys. Along with promoting a greener Scotland, the strategy has the potential to create safer communities, a healthier and more productive workforce and a more robust economy aided by increased foot traffic.

Infographic: Paths for All The National Walking Strategy, Let’s Get Scotland Walking

The National Walking Strategy was first published in 2014 by the Scottish Government, as a long-term plan to get more people in Scotland walking more often and to show its commitment to the plan, the government in 2018 appointed, Lee Craigie, a former professional mountain bike rider and co-founder of the Adventure Syndicate, as the Active Nation Commissioner.

In a statement reacting to the announcement of the revised action plan, Craigie said: “My job is to ensure that walking and cycling are more accessible to more people, so I’m pleased to support the National Walking Strategy Action Plan which firmly embeds walking in all aspects of our lives.”

Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, said in the ministerial foreword in the revised strategy: “We want to build well-connected and attractive ‘walkable’ public places, routes, greenspaces and streets to encourage more people to walk and make active travel choices in their daily routines.”

Paths For All, an organization whose aim is to significantly increase the number of people who choose to walk in Scotland and was also involved in adapting this revised walking strategy, is offering funding of up to £10,000 to projects that help work towards increasing walking for health initiatives in their own communities. The deadline for the application is 3 May.

Paths for All CEO, Ian Findlay, said: “Scotland has the opportunity to become a world leader as a walking-friendly country. There is powerful evidence supporting the benefits of regular walking which can help us deal with some of today’s most serious public health issues including obesity, mental ill health and social isolation.”

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