Improve quality of footpaths to boost activity

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has encouraged councils to improve routes for pedestrians and cyclists to enable people to be more physically active.

The updated guidance on physical activity and the environment seeks to help people be more active through improvements to the built environment, as well as boosting public transport and countryside access. The organisation is prioritising the safety and convenience footpaths and cycle routes, urging authorities to remove hazards like tree roots and keeping obstructions such as parked cars, hanging baskets or bins out of the way.

The guidance also says that councils should make more areas pedestrian only and refer to NICE’s recent guidance on air pollution, which advises that smoother driving would reduce fumes and help improve air quality.

Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said: “Handing back some of the roads to pedestrians and cyclists will help people to become more active. Simple things such as ensuring street lights along footpaths are working and hedges are kept trimmed makes walking a more attractive option which will lead to people living healthier lives.

“People with limited mobility need extra help from their surroundings such as adapted crossings, public transport that can be used with a wheelchair and step free access. With a little thought these measures can be designed into our public spaces to help everyone be more active.”

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