Walking plan aims to make great strides for Queenslanders’ health

Supporting Queenslanders to walk more often is at the heart of the state’s first ever Walking Strategy.

Embedding ‘walkability’ in planning, creating more pedestrian friendly precincts and promoting walking tourism are some of the actions outlined in the Palaszczuk Government’s 10-year plan.

Launching the strategy today ahead of Walk at Work Week, Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said $2.5 million would be invested in walking initiatives across the state over the next three years to support the plan.

“Making walking an easy and obvious choice for people means healthier people,” Mr Bailey said.

“When we talk about walking, we include jogging, running and moving with the help of a mobility device, such as a wheelchair, mobility cane or a walking frame.

“The Queensland Walking Strategy was developed using feedback we directly received from Queenslanders and recognises the critical role walking plays in keeping us all healthy.”

Mr Bailey said governments at all levels could support people to walk more often by ensuring walking was more prominently considered in planning and public design, including more shade and better connected pathways.

“It’s recommended adults do at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, each week,” Mr Bailey said.

“Research shows Queenslanders are walking more on average each week than they were 10 years ago, but factors that discourage people to walk include the distances to destinations, lack of shade and shelter, and lack of suitable paths.

“It’s factors like these that mean in almost 40% of the journeys taken in south east Queensland under one kilometre, people are still choosing to drive.

This strategy is about putting a number of small steps together so that we can make swapping the car for the footpath a natural choice for people.”

Mr Bailey said the 10-year strategy was supported by an action plan with 44 initiatives.

“Some of the actions include exploring ways to reduce pedestrian wait times at crossings and implementing lower speed limits in at least 20 locations over two years in areas with high numbers of walkers and bike riders,” Mr Bailey said.

“We’ve introduced low speed areas in the Cairns CBD and at Coolum along David Low Way in the past 12 months, so we’re monitoring those spaces to see if they encourage more walking, bike riding.

“We’re also piloting initiatives to improve access for people with mobility impairments through a mapping program, where sensors are fitted to participants’ wheelchairs and fed into an online map.

“People with accessibility requirements will then be able to map out their journeys with confidence knowing they can get to where they need to go without obstructions or missing links on their journeys.”

Heart Foundation Queensland CEO Stephen Vines welcomed the plan to get Queenslanders moving more.

“Regular walking is one of the best choices to reduce your risk of heart disease, so we want to see Queenslanders leaving the car at home more often and walking to work, school or the local shops,” Mr Vines said.

“The Queensland Walking Strategy will give people more opportunity to make a healthy choice in how they get from A to B and help them take steps towards a more active lifestyle.”

Queensland Walks President Anna Campbell congratulated the Palaszczuk Government for its commitment to releasing Queensland’s first Walking Strategy.

“A Queensland Walking Strategy will support and encourage improved walking infrastructure allowing more Queenslanders to walk, more often,” MS Campbell said.

“By prioritising people and their need to walk we will see local economies reinvigorated, healthier Queenslanders, improved safety and increased regional development through walking tourism and improved transport connections.”

Mr Bailey said the action plan would be monitored and updated every two years to ensure the strategy’s vision and objectives were being met.

Consultation was conducted in early 2019 with stakeholders, experts and organisations from across the state to hear first-hand what Queenslanders felt needed to be done to better promote walking.

Consultation included surveys, written submissions, an interactive ideas wall and workshops culminating in the Queensland Walking Summit, a flagship community event in March.

/Public Release. View in full here.