Alternative Media Group - Friday 16 September 2011

Hundreds of thousands of power walkers are expected to flood the streets tomorrow for the 13th annual National Walk to Work Day.

Organised by the Pedestrian Council of Australia and the Cancer Council, the event aims to promote increased physical activity and healthy habits.

The Pedestrian Council CEO, Harold Scruby, said walking should be a regular routine for everybody.

“We’re trying to get the word ‘walk’ back into the daily lexicon and thought processes of people,” Mr Scruby said.

“There is still a problem with Sydney and urban sprawl since it has tried to accommodate motor vehicles and hasn’t been focused on public transport.”

The Pedestrian Council has promoted walking for the last 15 years and has a number of affiliate organizations including disability groups and Parents and Citizens’ associations.

According to Mr Scruby, the city’s poor mass transit system is a factor in Australia being one of the fattest countries in the world.

“There are so many studies that say our chronic health problems are directly linked to our car dependency,” he said.

Retired Greens researcher, Norman Thompson, has lived in Sydney for the last decade without a car. He is now a volunteer researcher and travels on foot from Darlinghurst to Parliament twice a week.

“I had a car in Canberra but I sold it when I moved to Sydney,” Dr Thompson said. “Honestly, I think the city’s public transport is really good. I know some people complain about it but I don’t think it’s bad at all.”

Buses, trains and ferries are no problem for him but he prefers to take back streets when walking.

“Sydney is not all that pedestrian friendly. Sometimes it can be very frustrating since the traffic lights are quite long.” Dr Thompson said the national walk was an excellent idea. “Walking is healthy and it cuts down on pollution.”

Recruiting Coordinator Sheridan Kerr is another avid walker who walks to and from work every day; a trip that takes 25 minutes and is approximately three kilometres.

“I walk because it’s close and it’s beautiful,” she said. ”I walk through the park and it’s not crowded and I don’t have to wait for public transport.”

Ms Kerr not the only one who chooses sneakers instead of car keys at her workplace.

“I can think of quite a handful who walk to work,” she said.

Ms Kerr will be taking part in the event tomorrow.

“It gets everyone outside, it’s very positive and it’s obviously good for the environment,” she said.

By Deborah Erwin

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