Walking in Birmingham
Birmingham has already taken the first steps towards achieving a pedestrian friendly future. The extent and quality of the award winning pedestrianisation of the city centre is held in high regard nationwide.
In 2001, Birmingham reached the finals of the National Transport Awards for the pedestrianisation of Lower New Street, High Street and the removal of the subways under the Bull Street hump.
Of all the journeys made in Birmingham, 42% are under 2km. This is a distance that a person of average fitness can readily walk in 20-25 minutes. Car journeys account for 1/3 of these trips, so there is clearly potential for increasing the level of walking for short trips.
Approximately 20% of all journeys in Birmingham are walked. Whilst figures are not available, it is certain that walking has declined in recent years. Nationally, the distance walked by the average Briton has fallen by 20% since 1974. Rising levels of car ownership mean that many of the trips once walked will now be driven. This has impacted on traffic levels, air quality and noise in local areas.
The state of health of people in Birmingham is of serious concern. In particular;
- 20% of residents are obese compared with 16.6% nationally.
- Stroke rates are 13% higher than national levels.
- The death rate from heart disease is 15% above the national level and 26% higher for the 35-65 age groups.
Walking has the advantage of being free and can be readily integrated into daily routines. Five, thirty minute sessions of moderate activity a week is sufficient to maintain health, reduce the risk of dying prematurely and limit the onset of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, osteoporosis and colon cancer.