Local councils should clear pavements of obstructions and make pedestrians crossing accessible to make it easier for people with limited mobility to be more active in their area.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released draft guidance for local councils which aim to help people be more active through improvements to the built environment and better access.

NICE provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.

The Physical activity and the environment NICE guideline update advises authorities to encourage people to visit their parks and local open spaces, among a number of recommendations for people with reduced mobility, including visual impairments, disabilities or those who may find it challenging to get around, such as parents using prams.

Among a series of recommendations, NICE suggests that local councils should keep obstructions like parked cars, hanging baskets or bins out of the way on pavements.

The guidance also recommends that pedestrian crossings should be made accessible for all, which would mean using dropped down pavements for wheelchair users, textured ground for people with visual impairments or allowing time for signals to change at pedestrian crossings.

NICE says that local councils should engage with their community to take account of the needs and views of people, including those with limited mobility who may be affected by the design or maintenance of streets and parks.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre of guidelines at NICE, said if streets, parks and other open spaces were well planned, everyone should be able to get around their local area safely.

“Safe, accessible streets and well maintained parks can help people to get active and live longer, healthier lives,” he said.

Dr Justin Varney, national lead for physical activity, Public Health England, said physical activity benefitted everyone at all stages of life but people living with impairments were less active.

“This can be due to the way the built environment, including public spaces and transport systems, is designed. Making physical activity accessible to everyone when planning spaces benefits communities in terms of health, environmental sustainability and economic regeneration,” he said.

The draft guidance is out for consultation until 2 October 2017.

Photo credit: NICE website.