Talking Early Years with June O’Sullivan: in conversation with Dr Will Norman

September 14th 2023

Walk ‘n’ Ride to Good Health

It is not every day you get to talk to the Mayor’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner, but this is exactly who I am talking to in this podcast.  

Dr. Will Norman became London’s first Walking and Cycling Commissioner in 2016 and now leads the Mayor’s work to make the capital’s streets safer for walking and cycling, enabling thousands more Londoners to choose greener, cleaner and healthier ways of traveling around the city.  Being able to walk and cycle safely in the city should be the right of every family in London, yet many London parents believe the capital’s traffic-choked roads are too dangerous for their children to cycle on.   

However, given carbon footprint is one measure of sustainability and transport is 18% of that, it should be of no surprise just how beneficial both walking and cycling is for our health and the planet when done safely. 

Two children holding hands walking in the local park, exploring

Did you know that walking: 

  • Increases cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness 
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke 
  • Improves the management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes 
  • Builds stronger bones and improves balance 

I also know that walking helps people to self-regulate and walking side by side is often the best way to manage a difficult conversation and stop your amygdala being hijacked.  

When it comes to bikes, I need little persuasion about how we should help children and staff access bikes from balance bikes to electric bikes. Thanks to our partnership with Bikeworks, a social enterprise based in East London, we have received hundreds of bikes since 2018. This has helped children to become more active as well as providing bikes to children whose parents may not be able to afford to buy one. 

As obesity rates among children soar and the planet becomes even more damaged, what better way to take action and learn how to ride a bike because children who cycle regularly are more likely to become active adults.

Will is full of interesting facts and suggestions including the TfL grants designed to support settings instigate walking and / or cycling initiatives.

Listen to this Podcast to find out more.