London appoints cycling and walking tsar

Encouraging all Londoners to walk or cycle for 20 minutes each day could save £1.7Bn in NHS treatment costs over 25 years, new research from the Greater London Authority shows.

This comes as the Mayor’s new Walking; Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, starts work this week with a remit to make the capital’s streets safer and more welcoming to those on foot and in the saddle.

At present only a third of Londoners achieve the 20 minute walking or cycling target on any given day. Public Health England has also said that if all Londoners met the 20 minute figure there would be an 11% drop in coronary heart disease and an 18% fall in fatalities every year.

Will Norman previously worked for sportswear manufacturer Nike where he strived to increase levels of physical activity and participation in sport. In his new role he will take forward the Mayor’s new Healthy Streets programme and invest £770M on infrastructure and initiatives to promote cycling until 2022.

“Cycling and walking can play a transformational role in improving our health and happiness and building better communities for everyone,” Will Norman said. “London has so much potential to be a more active city and I’m looking forward to applying my knowledge and experience to open up cycling to everyone in our city, and give walking the focus it truly deserves. Too often the importance of walking has been underplayed – I’m determined to put it higher on the agenda.”