A new not-for-profit organisation has been launched to provide evidence-based expertise to countries, cities and communities across Europe that want to be more walkable and promote walking as a viable transport option.
Walk21 Europe was launched at the 22nd annual Walk21 international conference which, this year, is hosted in Dublin, Ireland. The new body will provide leadership for Europe’s walking agenda by bringing together networks in member countries, supporting policy development and building capacity across the region.
Walk21 Europe will capitalise on Europe’s ambitions for urban mobility and sustainable cities, as set out in the EU Green Deal, the Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy, and the new European Urban Mobility Framework. Communities, researchers, practitioners, and politicians will be encouraged to follow those priorities with an emphasis on sustainability, low carbon transport, inclusiveness/equity, road safety, public engagement and user satisfaction. Walk21 Europe will monitor policy progress, strengthen capacity in the community of mobility practitioners and support the delivery and evaluation of walking projects.
Maria Vassilakou, the Chair of the new Walk21 Europe, said:
“Having served as Vienna’s Deputy Mayor, I know how very proud we are, to be recognised as one of the most walkable cities in the world. Our citizens choose to walk more because of the policies we created and projects we implemented. We are launching Walk21 Europe today to inspire and grow a network of walkable cities across Europe”.
Heather Allen, a senior transport consultant based in Belgium and a Board Member of Walk21 Europe, said:
“Walking underpins all sustainable and low carbon transport options. Already 79% of Europeans walk every day, and two-thirds of European countries have a policy at some level of government supporting this. Walk21 Europe will build on this to support the development of more effective policy and ensure it is translated into actions that help to increase the numbers of Europeans walking by making our communities more safe, comfortable, equitable and enjoyable”.
Ineke Spapé, emeritus professor at Breda University of Applied Sciences and a Board Member of Walk21 Europe, said:
“Growing capacity is essential to underpin the delivery of our vision for a more walkable Europe. Walk21 Europe will coordinate new research, provide training, walkshops and tools and make sure inspirational case studies are accessible to professionals, students and advocacy groups across the region.”
Helge Hillnhütter, associate professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and a Board Member of Walk21 Europe, said:
“Norway was the first country in the world to develop a national strategy for walking which helped raise awareness and stimulate action. Many small and large cities support walking because it is the glue holding the transport system together and a universal strategy to improve health, well-being, social equity, and safety, as well as environmental and climate challenges, all at the same time. Through our new organisation we will strongly support the European shift towards becoming a world leader for walkable cities as attractive living environments and enabling sustainable lifestyles”.
- Walk21 Europe is registered as a not for profit in The Netherlands and is steered by
four independent volunteer Board Members. The organisation will function alongside
the Walk21 Foundation which has operated for more than two-decades from a UK base
to support the needs of people walking around the world.
- The Walk21 Foundation has supported walking in Europe for two decades including
expert support to EU-funded projects FLOW, Switch Travel, COST Pedestrian
Quality Needs and Active Access. Walk21 Europe is a consortium partner in several
bids for further European funds and welcomes further collaborations that seek better
outcomes for people walking in Europe.
- The annual Walk21 international conference on Walkable and Liveable Communities
started in London in the year 2000 at the end of a European LIFE project. The
conference has been hosted by European cities ten times inspiring ambition, policies,
networks and projects for walking in London, San Sebastian, Copenhagen, Zurich,
Barcelona, The Hague, Munich, Vienna, Rotterdam and Dublin.
- Walk21 Europe is supporting the development of the pan-European master plan on
walking by the Transport Health and Environment Pan-European Partnership (THE
PEP), an initiative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
and World Health Organisation (WHO). Ministers expect to adopt the Masterplan in
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