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Whiter areas of England and Wales have 144% more local trails, study finds | Communities

Older, white, wealthy and healthy people have access to miles more of public footpaths in their local neighborhoods than poor, ethnically diverse communities in England and Wales, a study has found.

According to the study published by the Ramblers.

Analysis of more than 140,000 miles of public rights-of-way reveals that public trails are absent in communities that could most benefit from the public health gains associated with them, while fewer trails are included in or near modern housing estates.

The supply of public footpaths near new housing has steadily declined since the 1970s. Housing estates built in the 1990s have 19% more local public footpaths than housing estates built primarily in the 1990s. 21st century.

The bottom five local authority areas for public footpaths in England and Wales are Norwich, North East Lincolnshire, Liverpool, Southampton and Blackpool, while the best are Rossendale, Stroud, Monmouthshire, Malvern Hills and Calderdale.

Deprivation and trails graphic

People in Norwich have on average just 129 meters of public rights of way within 800 meters (10 minutes’ walk) of where they live, while in Rossendale, East Lancashire, on the border with Greater Manchester, residents benefit from an average of 9,232 meters of right of way. walking trail 10 minutes walk.

The worst parliamentary constituency for public roads is Liverpool Riverside, followed by Cardiff Central.

“We have neglected our trails as critical national infrastructure,” said Ramblers Trails Manager Jack Cornish. “This research (shows) that governments are missing an open goal. It’s clear that the availability of paths close to people’s homes has a huge impact on health outcomes – but at the moment it’s the elderly, the healthy, the wealthy, and the white who do so. mainly benefit.

Ethnicity and Trails Graphic

According to the study carried out by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) for the traveling charity, inequalities in access to public paths could be tackled by restoring “lost” rights of way, as well as protecting existing paths.

If public rights of way had been fully recorded and protected over the past eight decades, each community would have on average 38% more local public paths than today. The most deprived communities in England and Wales would benefit from around 63% more paths in their local area if all public paths had been correctly recorded in the legal registers from the 1950s.


The Ramblers are campaigning for ‘lost’ public paths to be registered before the 2026 deadline. They are also calling for new footpaths, particularly to allow new developments on the outskirts of towns to reach green countryside and town centers on foot , as well as creating green urban corridors to encourage more walking in busy cities where there are many but fewer roads. peaceful and pedestrian-friendly avenues.

Despite hundreds of studies demonstrating the physical and mental health benefits of being active in green spaces, previous research from Ramblers suggests that on average, only 57% of adults report living within a five-minute walk of ‘a green space. This figure falls to 46% for households with incomes below £15,000 per year.

NEF analysis suggests that doubling the average length of footpaths in a neighborhood would result in 78.5m of additional annual nature walks in England and Wales.

The study calculates that the government would need to invest an extra £650 million each year – £12 per person – to expand the trail network and address inequalities in access to it and nature.

Cornish said: “Local authorities need to be targeted after 13 years of austerity. If local authorities can raise the level of provision, this additional investment would pay dividends, as the network generates almost £2 billion of welfare value, not including economic and tourism benefits.

The Ramblers are calling for stricter planning rules that stipulate the development of paths around new housing and investment to improve existing paths and make them more accessible. According to a YouGov survey for Ramblers, 56% of people with disabilities said they don’t use public trails due to physical barriers.

“We have thousands of barns in fields that haven’t seen a cow in 50 years,” Cornish said.

Investing in public trails is popular, with 71% of the nearly 5,000 adults surveyed in the YouGov poll saying more money, time and resources should be invested in the public trail network.

theguardian Gt

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