Active Travel Challenge motivates more commuters out of their cars in Belfast

Awards presentation with bike

Civil servant Lynda Hurley from the Department for Infrastructure who topped the Active Travel Challenge leaderboard with Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey

Group of people with awards

All the 2018 Active Travel Challenge Award winners with Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey and David Tumilty from PHA who funded the project.

29 June 2018

More than a thousand people from a wide range of workplaces in Belfast caught the active travel bug in May – and walked, cycled or hopped on the train or bus.

Private, public and voluntary sector organisations went head to head in the Active Travel Challenge, organised by Sustrans and funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA), to encourage workers out of their car and travelling sustainably.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Deirdre Hargey congratulated the winners and all those who took part in an awards ceremony this week at PLACE offices in the city centre.

Almost 18,000 journeys were made by participants during May, the vast majority of which were undertaken on foot or by bicycle.

The Department for Infrastructure were active travel champions in the largest workplace category, while MCR Consulting, Belfast won in the smallest workplace category.

Civil servant Lynda Hurley from DfI took first place on the individual leaderboard and prizes went to a wide range of workplaces including Seaview Primary School in north Belfast.

The Active Travel Challenge's success has shown how more people are continuing to embrace active travel as part of their daily lives.

- David Tumilty, Public Health Agency

The workplaces that topped the Active Travel leaderboard were:

Over 40 workplaces registered for the Challenge with a total of 1,032 people registered, 69% of whom actively participated. The Active Travel Challenge is just one part of a wider PHA-funded project called Leading the Way with Active Travel, that is engaging with staff in some of Belfast’s largest workplaces to encourage and facilitate active travel.  

David Tumilty, Senior Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager at the PHA, said: “Congratulations to all who took part in the Active Travel Challenge. Its success has shown how more people are continuing to embrace active travel as part of their daily lives. It offers great examples of how easy it can be to fit walking, cycling and public transport in to the working day and enjoy the health benefits of doing so.

Sustrans Active Travel Officer, Patricia Magee said: “On average, we each burned the equivalent of 3,400 calories during the month of May - or just over a day’s worth of calories – just by changing the way we travel. I’m personally delighted with the uptake this year and aim to double this next year.”

Grainne McMacken from Belfast Health Development Unit in Belfast City Council has enjoyed taking part in the Challenge in recent years.

“The challenge makes me think again before I take the car out,” she said. “This time I used it to really challenge myself to cycle some slightly longer journeys. One day I cycled to the dentist 3 miles away. It really took the stress out of my appointment! I also deliberately car shared where I could which gave me a great opportunity to catch up with a friend I'd not seen for a while.”

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