South Ribble is out of step on walking to work front

Walkers set off on a health walk around Hurst Grange Park, Penwortham, led by Parks Officer for South Ribble, Paul Crighton, far left, one of a series of walks held every Tuesday
Walkers set off on a health walk around Hurst Grange Park, Penwortham, led by Parks Officer for South Ribble, Paul Crighton, far left, one of a series of walks held every Tuesday

SouthRibble has the lowest proportion of people who walk to work in the North West, according to a new report.

Analysis of census figures by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) revealed more than 350,000 residents across the region commute on foot.

South Lakeland in Cumbria has the highest proportion at 18.1 per cent, but South Ribble has the lowest at 7.5 per cent.

Preston was ninth highest with 13.6 per cent.

Coun Phil Smith, South Ribble Council’s member for leisure, regeneration and healthy communities, defended the borough’s record and said the figures did not tell the whole story. He said: “I’m not surprised by these findings, particularly considering the rural nature of South Ribble and the excellent transport connections we enjoy. It certainly doesn’t mean we’re an unfit bunch though.

“Every year we commit a hugely significant slice of our total budget to maintaining and improving our leisure centres. Last year we spent more than £1m, which led to more than a 50 per cent increase in the number of memberships.

“We also provide or assist volunteers and community groups to organise and run several programmes of walks, rambles, running clubs and bike rides, which are all extremely popular, and we’re set to run our eighth annual Walking Week in September.”

Nationally, the number of people commuting on foot has increased by more than nine per cent in the past decade.

Dr Helena Johnson, CSP chairman, said: “Walking is free and good for your health so it’s understandable that more people are doing it to get to work. Clearly some people need to use alternative modes of transport, but even then there are easy ways to build exercise into that journey - park further away from the office or get off the bus a stop early.

“Councils must do their part by promoting safe and enjoyable walking routes and removing some of the barriers that prevent people from getting exercise.”

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