Rodney Tolley, director of Walk21, a UK-based organisation that promotes walking, has been in Blenheim as a guest of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board's Nutrition and Physical Activity programme to assess whether Marlborough could improve its walkways for pedestrians. According to the Marlborough Express, Mr Tolley's analysis was that if you create a place where people want to walk and Blenheim will benefit economically.
Dr Tolley started his day with a walk around central Blenheim observing how many people were out and what the area was like. He said walking had a range of benefits. By having attractive footpaths it kept people in town longer and therefore kept them buying, he said.
His main reason for promoting walking was the health benefits followed by lowering one's carbon footprint and improving a town's economy. He said Blenheim was in general pretty good, particularly the courtesy crossings which meant people were more likely to want to walk as they could cross safely. However, there were some improvements needed such as more signage for attractions as well as cleaner shop frontages so those who were visually impaired had a clear path. Dr Tolley said Blenheim needed to be "modernised". He said blocking walking by having narrow footpaths, too many cars and no crossings would lead to more people opting for cars which would mean less money coming into the region. The five Cs connected, comfortable, convenient, convivial and conspicuous were what he suggested should be taken into account when looking at Blenheim's footpaths. Bike Walk Marlborough group chairman Paul Millen said it was great to have a world-class sustainable transport lecturer here who could point the council in the right direction. He said a new pamphlet would be launched in the next few days showing shortcuts through Blenheim and a scenic circle walk. He said Bike Walk Marlborough aimed to get people out and about either walking or biking through central Blenheim for a number of reasons, including its health benefits and to help reduce traffic congestion. "Blenheim's climate and flat topography make it ideal for walking or biking, particularly for children."
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