What do the party manifestos have to say about walking?


From the blog

What do the party manifestos have to say about walking?

Posted 4 May 2010 09:06 by martin


We've done an analysis of a number of party political manifestos to see what they have to say about walking.

First off, we haven't had the pleasure of sitting down and reading every page of each one.  We've carried out a slightly more simplistic exercise in which we downloaded PDFs of the documents and then did a search for “walk”, “walking”, “pedestrian”, “on foot” etc.

So with that caveat, here are the results (in strict alphabetical order):
  • BNP nothing
  • Conservatives – nothing
  • Greens – 6 mentions
  • Labour – nothing
  • Liberal Democrats – 1 mention
  • Plaid Cymru – nothing
  • SNP – nothing
  • UKIP – nothing
So what do we make of this?

OK, in comparison to issues such as the economy, immigration and schools, you may not expect political parties to devote much space in their manifestos to walking.  But then again, you'd have hoped that it may at least get a look in – the Conservative and Labour manifestos, for instance, manage to find space to talk about pubs and football…

Does this prove that we were right to be sceptical about the government's plans “to put walking and cycling at the heart of our transport and health strategies”?

With the notable exception of the Greens, it looks as though walking remains a bit of a Cinderella issue, not warranting discussion compared to more 'muscular' projects like high speed rail or road building.  And walking as part of health promotion gets trumped by a discussion of various approaches to disease management.

Look at what the Chief Medical Officer (for England) said recently in his annual report:

“For a far larger proportion of journeys than is currently the case, cycling and walking need to be more feasible and appealing options than driving. Most streets in most cities in England are currently designed around cars. This situation cannot continue.” [p.60]

One of his recommended actions is:

“National targets should be set to double travel on foot in England’s towns and cities, and to increase travel by bicycle eightfold; transport policy and road design should support the achievement of such gains.”

How many of the parties do you think are rising to that challenge?


Mentions of walking in the Green Party manifesto

  • “Services must be accessible. This means they must be easy and affordable to reach by public transport – and within walking distance in urban areas.”
  • “Support local shops through planning policies including business conservation areas, ensuring basic shops are available within walking distance in all urban areas and restricting the power of supermarkets.”
  • “We would prioritise transport modes according to the following hierarchy:
  1. Walking and cycling
  2. Public transport (trains, trams and buses) and rail freight
  3. Cars
  4. Heavy goods vehicles
  5. Flying
  • “To encourage walking and cycling for shorter journeys and improve road safety we would:
    • Reduce speed limits (e.g. to 20mph in built-up areas, including villages).
    • Make streets safe; make them public spaces again. Plan for mixed-use developments where shops, housing and businesses are closely located and connected by pavements and cycleways.
    • Introduce a maximum speed limit of 55mph on motorways and trunk roads, and 40mph on rural roads, to make them safer for all road users.
    • Introduce schemes such as Home Zones, Safe Routes to School and pedestrianisation.
    • Ensure that at least 10% of transport spending is on securing a shift to more active travel like walking and cycling.”
  • “Expansion of public transport (and walking and cycling) is critically important to decarbonising our transport infrastructure, which is the only sector in which climate-altering carbon emissions are currently growing. We would divert money currently being wasted on huge road projects and put more of the UK’s transport budget into public transport, and especially into local schemes for walking, cycling and bus travel.”
  • “Increase the tranquillity of our urban environments, with less litter, less noise, reduced light pollution and more green spaces. Everyone should live within walking distance of natural green space.”

Mention of walking in the Liberal Democrat manifesto

  • “Include the promotion of safer cycling and pedestrian routes in all local transport plans.”
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  1. Anne Greagsby says:

    May 4th, 2010 at 9:44 am (#)

    Bril article. This just highlights how politicans can not relate to ordinary people, especially older people and women who walk the most and who are most at risk of falling on dodgy pavements and struggle to cross the road. Here in Cardiff we still have to walk a very long way down old fashioned pedestrian tunnels to cross the road! The pavements are like obstacle courses, cluttered with so many poles carrying signs for motorists. Cardiff has just made the bus service one way to relieve congestion for cars! They want to build yet another car park at the bus station and remove the buses. People have to seek out bus stops which are in the most inconvienient places. On the street this is a huge issue which is just not being addressed while many people die or are seriously injured by vehicles.

  2. Marilyn Burn says:

    May 4th, 2010 at 7:02 pm (#)

    I'm afraid this is just not accurate as far as the Conservative manifesto is concerned. I thought I remembered seeing a reference, and I checked. It says:
    “We will free local transport funding from the requirement to introduce congestion charging and create a Transport Carbon Reduction Fund to support green projects such as initiatives to encourage walking, cycling and bus use or measures to help reduce the need for work-related travel – supported by our roll-out of fast broadband”.
    It's not as detailed as the Green manifesto, but it's certainly as detailed as the Lib Dem quote.

  3. jamie says:

    May 4th, 2010 at 7:15 pm (#)

    Marilyn – thanks for this, though I still can't find the quote. Could you give a page ref?

    Looking at: http://media.conservatives.s3.amazonaws.com/manifesto/cpmanifesto2010_lowres.pdf

  4. Nicette Ammar says:

    May 4th, 2010 at 8:20 pm (#)

    Interesting, although not surprising. The Greens and Lib Dems scored much higher on the democracy stakes too.

  5. Nicolas says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 8:50 am (#)

    If walk-it wants to get a little political, how about starting a campaign to develop 'greenways' – strips of greenery linking together parks, canals and other existing areas of greenland, so that people can walk for long distances without having to walk along roads.

    Personally I'd love this and I'm sure it would encourage a lot more people to walk. Most people don't particularly enjoy walking through city streets but nearly everyone enjoys walking through parks. How great would it be if that could be part of people's everyday journeys?

    It would also encourage more people to cycle as it would provide a solution to all the people put off by the safety hazards and pollution exposure that comes with cycling on roads.

    It seems to me that green campaigns focus exclusively on preserving existing areas of urban greenery – isolated parks and so forth. That's important, but how much better would be if we could focus on making parkland something that could be part of people's everyday journeys?

  6. Alison Scott says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 10:03 am (#)

    The Tory quote is from this page:


    Very odd that they've got policies in their “contract” that don't actually appear in the manifesto.

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