Public Health England has issued a briefing to local authorities in a bid to help them promote active travel such as walking and cycling.
Aimed at transport planners and public health practitioners, the briefing looks at the impact of current transport systems and sets out the benefits of increasing physical activity through active travel – highlighting the substantial ‘win-wins’ that will benefit individuals and the wider community.
Public Health England says that physical inactivity directly contributes to one in six deaths in the UK and costs £7.4bn a year to business and wider society.
The briefing suggests that while motorised road transport has a role in supporting the economy, a rebalancing of the travel system is required – attributing the increased use of cars to reduced levels of physical activity and a subsequent increase in the prevalence of obesity.
It describes short car trips of under five miles as a ‘prime area for switching to active travel and public transport’, and advocates building walking or cycling into daily routines as the most effective way to increase physical activity.
Public Health England says that switching more journeys to active travel will improve health, quality of life, the environment and local productivity, while at the same time reducing costs to the public purse.
The briefing puts forward a range of practical actions for local authorities, from overall policy to practical implementation. It highlights the importance of community involvement and sets out key steps for transport and public health practitioners.