The Irish Heart Foundation joins call for #SaferStreets

By June Shannon Coronavirus News   |   19th May 2020

The Irish Heart Foundation, The Irish Cancer Society and The Association for Health Promotion Ireland have called for safer space for all during and post COVID-19 restrictions.

The Irish Heart Foundation has joined a number of Irish health bodies and charities calling on the government to implement the #SaferStreets initiative to provide safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists across the country both during and after the current Covid-19 crisis.

The reality is that social distancing will be a feature of Irish society for some time to come however, our towns and villages are currently incapable of facilitating social distancing and as a result, many people are forced to step on to the road, putting themselves at risk.

Supported by the Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Cancer Society and the Association for Health Promotion Ireland, #SaferStreets is an initiative of the Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie.

" Providing greater and safer spaces for people to walk, cycle and exercise will promote physical activity,"

Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer , The Irish Heart Foundation

#SaferStreets proposes that while traffic is at reduced levels, streets must be permanently reconfigured to allocate greater space to walking, running, cycling and playing to ensure safe social distancing and improve levels of physical activity.

Across the world a number of countries have already taken the lead and reallocated road space to ensure safe social distancing for pedestrians and cyclists. Scotland, New Zealand, as well as Milan in Italy and Berlin in Germany have expanded cycling and walking spaces to protect the public and facilitate social distancing.

Research from Sport Ireland has shown that more adults are walking and exercising as a result of the lockdown measures and while this is to be welcomed, many are finding it difficult to commute or stay active while also practising social distancing.  This is due to a combination of greater numbers keeping active outdoors and the lack of space dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists.

" We need to ensure that communities across Ireland can maintain their physical activity during this time,"

Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer , The Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer with The Irish Heart Foundation, said, ‘’Physical activity improves your emotional and physical well-being, as well as reducing your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. We need to ensure that communities across Ireland can maintain their physical activity during this time and protect their wellbeing by taking the opportunity to transform our physical environment.”

“The World Health Organisation has identified physical inactivity as the fourth-highest risk factor for all-cause mortality. Providing greater and safer spaces for people to walk, cycle and exercise will promote physical activity, benefiting public health and reducing the level of mortality and obesity in Ireland.”

‘’With schools closed and more children and adults walking and cycling around their localities, there exists an unrivalled opportunity to transform our physical environment for the benefit of the active user by reallocating road space. Not only will this allow people to continue practice social distancing, but it can also embed a culture of active travel and physical activity into a whole new generation of Irish children and the wider Irish public. Longer-term reconfiguration of our physical environment can capture this behavioural change,” he added.

We are here for you

The Irish Heart Foundation’s nurse support line is available five days a week. Anyone living with heart disease and stroke who has concerns or questions about the coronavirus can contact the nurse support line on 01 668 5001 or support@irishheart.ie.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s new heart support group is on Facebook. Anyone who lives with heart failure or another heart condition or has a family member living with a heart condition can join here: www.facebook.com/groups/heartsupportnetwork/

The Irish Heart Foundation runs 21 stroke support groups and 5 heart failure groups around the country. All these groups have moved to telephone and online support. For more information, see https://irishheart.ie/get-support/.

The Irish Heart Foundation in conjunction with the HSE National Stroke Programme, has launched a new telephone support service for stroke patients who have recently been discharged from hospital. For more information, see here.

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cardiovascular disease cycling heart disease high blood pressure physical activity stroke walking WHO

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