Thousands of children across the UK will forego bus rides and lifts to school this week as part of an annual campaign to encourage people to walk more.

With less than half of primary school children now walking to school each day, UK charity Living Streets hopes Walk to School Week, part of its National Month of Walking, will remind families of the benefits walking brings while helping reduce congestion and pollution at school gates.

According to Living Streets, as a nation we are walking a third less than we were a generation, or 20 years, ago. The organisation fears that within two generations we may have “effectively engineered walking out of our lives” and aims to reverse that trend by improving UK streets and encouraging more people to get on their feet.

According to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, the largest ever study of congestion, the UK is currently the third most congested country in Europe and the fourth most congested in the developed world. It found UK drivers spend an average of 32 hours a year in traffic jams, with drivers in London averaging 73 hours in peak-time holdups annually.

"If, as is hoped, there are more children walking and cycling this week, it is important drivers take extra care to give those who have made the commitment the safest experience possible."

Richard Johnson
road accident specialist at Thompsons Solicitors

Richard Johnson, road accident specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “We wholeheartedly support the work of Living Streets to make Britain’s roads more pedestrian-friendly, and encourage more people to get out of their cars and onto their feet.

“We all know the benefits of walking. Not only is it a great form of exercise with a proven positive impact on mental health, but walking more could contribute to reducing dangerous air pollution levels and ease traffic at peak times.

“Unfortunately, many people simply don’t feel safe to cycle or walk while our road infrastructure is straining under the pressure of record levels of traffic. With investment being patchy at best, it looks like the future is just more congestion, and with that, comes increased risk of injury.

“If, as is hoped, there are more children walking and cycling this week, it is important drivers take extra care to give those who have made the commitment the safest experience possible.”