Employers across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to sign-up to the Active Travel Challenge for a healthier and more environmentally-friendly commute.
Throughout June, employers are asked to encourage staff to leave the car at home and walk, cycle or take public transport for 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.
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.
“ Around one third of the journeys we make every day are less than two miles – a distance that could be walked or cycled ”
Steven Patterson, Sustrans Delivery Manager, said: “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 that getting active as part of your daily routine can make to your life. The Active Travel Challenge is a great way to get started.”
Themed active travel weeks
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.”
Brendan Bonner, Assistant Director of Public Health, Health Improvement at the PHA, said: “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, said: “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.
"Around one-third of all journeys we 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 is a range of fantastic prizes up for grabs including shopping vouchers, sports watches and Translink tickets.