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Annette King: Walk to Work

Annette King: Walk to Work

Annette King and
Charles Chauvel walk the talk this morning
Click to enlarge

Annette King and Charles Chauvel walk the talk this morning

19 March, 2008
Walk to Work

Thank you, Celia Wade-Brown, for your welcome, and congratulations to everyone here for putting on your sneakers and walking to work today.

Celia, as president of Living Streets Aotearoa, the group which has organised this inaugural event, has every reason to be particularly pleased to see you all, but we can all feel happy to be part of such a special occasion.

I am sure that, like me, you would have received a few envious looks from motorists, stuck in traffic, as you walked past them on your way here. Walking to work, if you can manage it, is so much more fun and so much healthier than driving.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the inaugural Walk to Work Day than by joining you here today.

How appropriate that the launch of this event is in Wellington --- a city renowned for travel by foot. With our hillside suburbs within walking distance of the city and fantastic public walkways, Wellington really is the country’s walking capital.

The health, economic and environmental benefits of walking are obvious.

For short trips you can often get to your destination quicker on foot than by any other mode, and getting into the routine of walking to work is a great way to clear your head and gather your thoughts before you start the day.

Walking to work is also a great way to get part of your daily exercise quota, and when you add in Wellington’s occasional wind resistance factor, you can also get the equivalent of a gym workout!

Despite all these obvious benefits, it is a sad fact that more than half of New Zealanders’ travel time is spent driving. Travel to work is still the largest travel category and also the most dependent on driving.

Recently the Government launched a discussion document on the future of transport in New Zealand. In the document, we proposed an ambitious target to increase the number of walking and cycling trips from 17 per cent of total trips in urban areas to 30 per cent.

Land Transport New Zealand has also set aside $14.5 million this year for walking and cycling.

The Government continues to support initiatives such as Walk to Work through our strategy to advance walking and cycling in New Zealand ‘Getting There – on foot by cycle’.

The ‘Getting There’ strategy provides an environment for decision making that recognises the importance of walking and cycling, not only for recreation, but as important modes of transport.

Its vision is: a New Zealand where people from all sectors of the community walk and cycle for transport and enjoyment.

This vision is supported by three goals:

• Community environments and transport systems that support walking and cycling
• More people choosing to walk and cycle, more often
• Improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists

We also need to set an example for our children. Just two weeks ago I walked to school with pupils from Lyall Bay School to support ‘Feet First Walk to School Week’, an initiative to encourage more children and their parents to walk to school.

Over 140,000 children around the country took part in the week’s events which is very encouraging for our next generation of commuters. It is my hope that the positive experiences of Feet First week will encourage more parents and children to walk as part of their daily routine - whether to school, to work, or just for sheer enjoyment.

I want to thank Living Streets Aotearoa again for organising this event and for its work raising the profile of walking as a viable alternative to other modes of transport, and Wellington City Council for its work on the ‘Stepping Out’ programme.

And finally thank you to the people who have come along today to hand out information about the benefits of walking, and thank you most of all to all of you for taking part in this great initiative.


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