Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

More than half of parents say lower speed limits would help kids exercise more as health expert backs shift to 20mph

by Ian Shires on 18 November, 2012

Received in an email off Sustrans Free Range Kids Team freerangekids@sustrans-info.org.uk

More than half of parents believe lower speed limits would allow their kids to walk, cycle and play outside more often, according to a survey carried out by Netmums for charity Sustrans.

The survey revealed 54 per cent of parents thought their kids would be more physically active if speed limits were lowered, with 49 per cent identifying busy and dangerous roads as the main reason their children don’t walk or cycle to school.

Sustrans’ Free Range Kids campaign is calling for a default national 20mph speed limit in residential areas to help tackle to the UK’s growing obesity epidemic – a call backed by Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation.

Sustrans’ Chief Executive Malcolm Shepherd said,

“It’s a tragedy that so many of our children are failing to meet recommended physical activity levels but little wonder when parents don’t feel that their local streets are safe.

“We urgently need to make our neighbourhoods safer if we’re to get kids active by walking and cycling to school and playing outdoors.

“Parents want to see safer streets – the Government must change the standard speed limit to 20mph on the streets where we live, work and play.”

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“We know that children aren’t getting active enough. This can directly affect their health – increasing their risk of developing long term conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

“It should be as easy as possible for everyone to get active as part of their everyday life. Walking or cycling to school is a simple way for children to fit activity into their daily lives.

“But for people to feel confident to do this, we need towns and cities which encourage people to have an active lifestyle. Steps like reducing the speed limit in residential areas are one of the ways we can help create environments which inspire people to be more active.”

Nearly 90 per cent of parents responding to the survey said their children were within the healthy weight range although more than 33 per cent of children in the UK are known to be obese.

This reflects the findings of some previous studies that show parents routinely overestimate the amount of exercise their children are getting and underestimate their weight range.

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