Children should be able to walk to school, campaigners say
Children should be encouraged to play outside and adults to walk or cycle more, health and transport groups say.
Over 70 groups, including public health doctors and the Ramblers' Association, are asking candidates in this week's local elections to back such ideas.
They want each to pledge to invest 10% of transport budgets in walking and cycling initiatives.
The Association of Directors of Public Health said boosting activity levels would help tackle obesity.
The campaigners say investment would also provide other benefits of physical activity, such as lowering heart disease and cancer rates and reducing the impact of mental illness.
At the moment, less than half a per cent of transport budgets in England and Wales are spent on walking or cycling.
A report compiled by the campaign groups also calls for:-
- A 20mph speed limit to be made the norm in residential areas
- Cycle route networks to help people get to "everyday destinations"
- Better training for drivers
- Traffic laws to be properly enforced
- "Ambitious" targets to be set to encourage more people to walk and cycle
They have put together a document outlining the measures they want to see, which would make it safer and more convenient for people to walk or cycle in their local area.
The report says: "Two generations ago children played and adults socialised in the streets between their homes.
"In many continental cities and towns this is still true, but in the UK it has become unconventional, and worthy of disapproval, for parents to let their children play out in the street."
'The perfect exercise'
Dr Tim Crayford, of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: "If we really want to see levels of obesity declining in the UK, we have to move on from the rhetoric.
"We need to see a visible investment in infrastructure that makes cycling and walking the travel modes of choice for people across the country."
Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: ""This is a people's movement in every sense.
"Time for local candidates to really commit to encouraging more walking and cycling. Good for health, good for the planet. It certainly get's my vote."
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said initiatives were being introduced to encourage people to walk and use their bikes, including £140m to be invested in cycle training and routes across England over the next three years.
She added: "We are keen to work closely with local authorities, schools and parents and indeed many of these organisations so that this investment delivers the improved environments and facilities that will make a real difference to many people's travel habits."