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Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is that Belfast is recognised globally
as a healthy, equitable and sustainable city

Healthy Cities 21st Century


Belfast Healthy Cities, the World Health Organisation body in Northern Ireland is asking election candidates across the city to count the number of steps they take during the last two weeks of the of the campaign, and to take in their walking surroundings while canvassing for votes.

Through the BHC Election Walkability Challenge candidates are asked to send in their total number of steps and Belfast Healthy Cities will keep a running total of individual candidates and the overall figure. 

As part of Belfast Healthy Cities work improving health outcomes, they have worked with local community groups to complete walk assessments of their local area. This has looked at how easy it is to move around, considering crossing points, street furniture such as benches, lighting and cleanliness. These factors are important to how people can move around their local streets, and, as walking has an important physical and social role, the walkability of an area is important to health outcomes.

Now Belfast Health Cities is asking candidates standing in the Assembly election to take a close look at their surroundings as they pound the pavements over the next few weeks. As they count their steps, candidates are also asked to note the walking challenges faced by people in the city. 

Joan Devlin from Belfast Healthy Cities explained why the organisation is putting an emphasis on walkability in this election campaign. 

“Over the last few years we have been studying what challenges people take when they walk to work, for leisure or as part of their daily routine. These can include difficult to navigate road crossing points, cars parking on pavements, rubbish and dog fouling, street lighting and dropped kerbs. As politicians are likely to experience some of these issues themselves over the next few weeks we think it is an opportunity to highlight these problems and focus on what practical solutions can delivered to assist people as they walk through Belfast to work, schools, the pharmacy or local shop.

“It would be great to get feedback from candidates right across North, South, East and West Belfast as indeed from further afield. We will collate information and observations from any candidates who gets involved in the Election Walkability Challenge. Counting the steps will also help to show us all how walkable our city really is, and will hopefully help us to question if a journey in the car is always the best when walking is an option.

“Building understanding is essential to help make the structural, practical and personal changes to make Belfast into a more inclusive and walkable city.”

Election candidates are encouraged to post their daily steps total using #BHCElectionWalk or by emailing Belfast Healthy Cities will collate the steps and publish the total after the election.