Greater Manchester (GM) has a shared ambition to enable the greatest number of people to routinely walk for pleasure, personal or environmental benefit and travel convenience. By achieving this we aim to create a GM walking city region. Walking is a popular activity and can be made inclusive and accessible for everyone to enjoy. Whether striding, strolling, pushing, roaming or rolling, it all matters.
In Greater Manchester, there is a clear recognition of the importance of walking to population scale change in physical activity. There is widespread understanding of the critical role of walking - for leisure, for travel and for everyday activity.
Walking is accessible to almost all of the population; only 4% of people either needing help when walking outside the home or are unable to walk on their own at all. As such, it is a simple way to help reduce health care costs caused by physical inactivity and improve the overall health and wellbeing of the majority of our residents.
For the least active, walking can be a great first step to improving their health by moving more. A study has shown that within England, 5.4 million people (aged 25-64 years) would benefit from regularly walking at 3mph. In Greater Manchester, this is approximately 283,000 people.
“Brisk walking has the greatest potential for increasing the overall activity levels of a sedentary population and is most likely to be adopted by a range of ages, socioeconomic and ethnic groups.” Hillsdon and Thorogood
Active Lives data demonstrates how before Covid, more people were already walking for both leisure and travel in GM. As the pandemic began and opportunities to be active reduced, walking for leisure became a key driver of physical activity (March-November 2020), and one of few areas of growth in participation numbers. This is something we must build on as we continue to live with, and beyond, the pandemic.
Walking can contribute to Greater Manchester achieving it’s potential of being a great place to get on and grow old. To do this, everyone needs to play their part, whatever your role; watch the video below to understand why.
The GM Walking Voice is a network of people and organisations across Greater Manchester working to help people walk more through strategic influence; work in and with communities or; inspiring and supporting others to walk more as part of their daily or weekly routine. By joining the GM Walking Voice network, you can play your part.
By developing active and sustainable environments through active design, planning and infrastructure, it is easier for people to choose to be active. Creating walkable neighbourhoods is a key element of this work to ensure people can get to where they need to go, without needing to get in the car. The development of The Bee Network, by TfGM and partners, is one key way in which we are seeing active environments being created. Find out more about the work to create active environments here.
If you need ideas and inspiration to get started on your walking journey, and inspire others to walk more, the GM Walking website has everything you need. From finding new routes to walk, groups to walk with, or activity sheets to keep you, your family or your workplace motivated and enjoying the journey. They also offer support for those helping others to walk via the walking champions pages.
The Walking Ambition Programme Evaluation, conducted by evaluation partner, Substance, was published in July 2021. This report brings together learning from the full two years of observations of the development of the Walking Ambition (WA) in Greater Manchester. Read the full learning report here.
Between Feb 2019 and September 2021, there was a significant shift in the narrative around the importance of walking to population scale change in physical activity. Read Strategic Director Beth Sutcliffe's blog here that details the progress to date.
Research by Sustrans has revealed the benefits of the temporary changes to Scotland’s walking and cycling infrastructure, introduced during the 2020 Covid lockdown.