Call for employers to give green light for sustainable travel

Businesses are being encouraged to promote greener ways of travel among their workforce this June, as several bodies come together to launch the Active Travel Challenge.

Translink, the Department for Infrastructure, Public Health Agency (PHA), Sustrans, health trusts and some councils are all backing the challenge and are encouraging large and small businesses across Northern Ireland take part.

Active travel means making journeys by physically active means. The joint initiative encourages people to adopt a mode of transport for the commute like walking, cycling, or getting public transport.

For the month of June, workplaces can sign up and track their journeys to win prizes and compete with other businesses across NI or even set up teams within the office for a bit of healthy competition.

With the rising cost of living, an appetite to make greener choices that benefit the environment, and a return to the office, even in a hybrid model, there is a unique opportunity this year to try out new ways to not only get to work, but to take a break from working at home and get moving outdoors during the day.

This collaborative drive aims to inspire people to adopt greener travel options that will prioritise their health and wellbeing and support Northern Ireland’s ‘green’ economic recovery and progress towards a low-carbon future.

Translink Director of Service Operations Ian Campbell said: “Taking public transport, walking, or cycling, is not only an easy way to add in daily exercise, but it saves you money and creates time for yourself and your mental health. This year we have added more than 100 zero emission buses to our fleet, as well as tap on technology to allow contactless payments on a range of bus services. We are transforming public transport to make it more attractive and easier to use, so more people make it their first choice for travel. Signing up to this challenge means everyone can do their bit to reduce congestion, reduce pollution and create a cleaner, more inclusive society for all.”

Public Health Agency Chief Executive, Aidan Dawson added: “Building active travel into your working day can help contribute to meeting the recommended amount of physical activity of 150 minutes each week.Research shows that physical activity can improve sleep, help maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress. It also reduces the risk of developing chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, and respiratory conditions.”

Sustrans Director Caroline Bloomfield said hybrid working gives a new opportunity to try active travel methods: “This year we are encouraging everyone to get active on their everyday journeys. Instead of sitting in a traffic jam or spending time looking for car parking, why not try walking or cycling as part of your commute, shopping trip or for leisure. As many of us return to some form of office working there is a great opportunity to change how we travel to work. The Active Travel Challenge is a great way to kick-start being active in your daily routine and make the change to a healthier lifestyle that will also benefit the environment.”

Chief Executive of Belfast City Council, John Walsh said the challenge offers an opportunity to try something new: “As a council, we want to encourage more people to walk and cycle and in turn, improve their physical health and mental wellbeing while reducing their carbon footprint. The Active Travel Challenge provides a fantastic platform to encourage people out of their cars, be that walking to the bus stop or walking or cycling for their entire journey. We are delighted to champion the Active Travel Challenge, again this year.”

It’s free to register and participants can log their ‘active travel’ journeys online throughout June, with a different theme each week of the month and a range of prizes up for grabs, including vouchers, travel tickets and rewards with national and regional retailers.

To find out more and get involved in this year’s Active Travel Challenge go to atc.getmeactive.org.uk/ or email challenge@sustrans.org.uk. Keep up to date with all the latest ATC action on social media using #GetMeActiveNI

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Love Belfast
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