Active Travel means making everyday journeys in physically active ways, such as walking, cycling and using public transport rather than driving a car. It is the main form of physical activity and, if done regularly, can help people maintain a healthy weight, increase muscle strength and flexibility and improve mental wellbeing. In addition, it can benefit local productivity, reduce air pollution and congestion, support healthy lifestyles and contribute to a low carbon economy.
The research was conducted in market towns in England using a combination of focus groups and go-along journeys (where participants were accompanied by researchers on a route of their choice). This allowed the study to explore both the barriers and enablers to active travel for commuters and older adults. It was the first time that market town residents had been surveyed about their attitudes towards Active Travel, revealing key insights into what could be done to encourage more of it.
Active Travel Trends: The Rise of Walking and Biking for Commuters
The research found that a key barrier was the lack of safe and connected infrastructure to encourage Active Travel. However, it was also revealed that many trips could be made more active by changing the way they were planned and undertaken. This was particularly the case for within-town trips. Replacing motorised trips with walking or cycling resulted in estimated gains of up to six minutes of physical activity a day. These potential gains, and the fact that many replaceable trips were found to be able to be completed in under 30 minutes, highlights the value of focusing on these short trips as a means of encouraging more active travel.