An ‘unprecedented’ coalition of organisations in Wales has lobbied for a change in law that will make local authorities responsible for developing and maintaining a national network of paths for cyclists, walkers and disabled people.
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, has backed the move following the Sustrans-led coalitions recommendations, consisting of companies like British Telecom, Royal Mail, the British Medical Association, Age Concern, Play Wales, the National Union of Teachers and others.
In a letter sent to the members of the Enterprise and Learning Committee, Towler said: “A legal duty on Highway Authorities to develop and maintain a network of traffic-free routes could make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people in Wales. It could benefit their general health and well-being, tackle childhood obesity, provide safer routes to schools and greater access to play areas.”
Sustrans Cymru national director Lee Waters added: “This is the first time a proposal has come forward from civil society under the Welsh Assembly's new law making powers.
"It has the support of organisations representing businesses, children, older people, health experts and a range of environmental charities. And we are delighted that the Children's Commissioner for children in Wales has now added his independent voice.
“To encourage people to walk and cycle more often we need a network of well-maintained traffic-free paths. Left to their own devices Highway Engineers will not put pedestrians and cyclists first. Our proposal will help address the problems that the Assembly Government is committed to address. Now is the time for ministers to follow through.
"If the Assembly Government block the first initiative to come from civil society it will send a very negative signal to the voluntary sector.”