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A new initiative has been launched to encourage workers to leave the car at home and walk/ cycle or take public transport to their place of employment during the month of June.

Workers are being challenged to improve their health and the environment by walking, cycling or using public transport for their daily commute while Employers are being encouraged to sign-up to the Active Travel Challenge.

A couple of statistics on cycling alone explains the health benefits.

  • Regular cycling cuts the risk of premature death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46% - compared to a non-active commute (British Medical Journal – April 2017)

     

  • People cycling saves the NHS £8 million annually, equivalent to salaries of 343 nurses. (The UK Bike Life survey (2017))

The Department for Infrastructure, Public Health Agency, Sustrans and Translink have joined forces to launch the new initiative.

Throughout June, employers are asked to encourage staff to leave the car at home and walk, cycle or take public transport for some of their journeys to, from and during work. Participants log their ‘active travel’ journeys online and can compete with colleagues and other companies to see who makes the most journeys.

Under starters orders: David Tumilty, Health & Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager, PHA, Cathy McGeough, Translink Bus Inspector, Calvin Holohan, Owner, Holohan's at the Barge and Peter Byrne, Portview Fit-out pictured at the launch of the Active Travel Challenge.
Under starters orders: David Tumilty, Health & Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager, PHA, Cathy McGeough, Translink Bus Inspector, Calvin Holohan, Owner, Holohan's at the Barge and Peter Byrne, Portview Fit-out pictured at the launch of the Active Travel Challenge.

Each week of the month will have a different ‘active travel’ theme with a range of prizes and incentives up for grabs to motivate employees to join the challenge.

The Active Travel Challenge will run throughout June 2019 featuring: Bus + Train Week (3-9th June), Bike Week (10-16th June), Walking Week (17-23rd June) and Get Active Week (24 – 30 June)

 

Encouraging organisations to get involved, Translink’s Employee Support Officer Una Carson said:

“Following the success of Translink’s Corporate Challenge over the past 3 years which saw employers encourage staff to use the bus or train for their daily commute, we have set the bar even higher in 2019, joining with partner agencies to deliver a month-long active travel challenge that kicks off with Bus + Train Week.

“Research shows that people who take public transport are more active, clocking up additional steps and burning more calories as they walk to and from the bus or train. By incentivising staff to travel more actively throughout June, employers can help improve the health and wellbeing of workers, whilst reducing traffic congestion and creating better air quality for everyone who lives here.”

Steven Patterson, Sustrans Delivery Manager, added: “Many commuters spend a large chunk of their day sitting in traffic jams. We believe you can combine active travel into all or part of your daily commute. We are really keen to attract the ordinary, mainly sedentary worker to take part and enjoy the difference getting active as part of your daily routine can make to your life. The Active Travel Challenge is a great way to get started.”

Brendan Bonner, Assistant Director of Public Health, Health Improvement at the PHA, said “This partnership initiative is a fantastic opportunity for workers across NI to use the month of June to try out active travel as a means of commuting to work and we would encourage people to embrace active travel as part of their daily lives.

“Building active travel into your working day through walking and cycling can help contribute to meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ recommended amount of physical activity of 150 minutes each week.

“Research shows that people who are physically active can reduce their risk of developing chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and respiratory conditions. It can also improve sleep, help maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress and anxiety.”

Lynda Hurley, Safe and Sustainable Travel Division in the Department for Infrastructure, concluded: “Encouraging people to make sustainable travel choices is a key ambition in the draft Programme for Government and the Department is committed to working collaboratively with others to increase the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport.

There are many benefits in choosing active travel options – to your health, the environment and your pocket!  Many people continue to use the private car for what are relatively short journeys.  In fact, around one third of all journeys that we all make every day are less than two miles  – a distance that could be walked or cycled.  A further one third of journeys are less than five miles. One small change can make a big difference. Challenge yourself to get active and start enjoying the benefits.”

Challenge registration is free and there are a range of fantastic prizes up for grabs including shopping vouchers, sports watches and Translink tickets.

Find out more about signing-up to the Active Travel Challenge by visiting getmeactive.org.uk or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest ATC action on social media using #GetMeActiveNI.

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