The Active Travel Challenge 2023 attracted 1247 participants across Northern Ireland - a 50% increase from last year. The event recorded almost 2,500 car journeys being switched to walks during June - saving over 13,000 kilograms of carbon and financial savings close to £17,000.
Active Travel Champions celebrated across Northern Ireland. Pictured is Sustrans' Northern Ireland Director, Caroline Bloomfield (centre), who joined Active Travel Challenge partners (from left) Siobhan Toland, Director of City Services, Belfast City Council, Aidan Dawson, CEO of Public Health Agency, Fiona Meenan, Belfast Health Improvement Team at Belfast Trust, Ian Campbell, Translink Service Operations Director, and Raymond McCullough, Department for Infrastructure. Credit: Translink
This year’s Active Travel Challenge Awards celebrated the success of organisations and individuals who have been making greener, more sustainable travel choices.
As part of the annual competition, people from workplaces across Northern Ireland signed up to swap the car for more active modes of transport in June.
The goal is to encourage long-term behavioural change and a shift towards healthier travel habits like: public transport, and walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling.
Celebrating a record journey submission
The Active Travel Challenge is a joint initiative with our partners Translink, Department for Infrastructure, Public Health Agency, Belfast and Western Health Trusts, Belfast City Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Commenting on this year’s record journey submission, our Northern Ireland Director, Caroline Bloomfield, said:
“We are absolutely delighted with the level of uptake the Active Travel Challenge has had this year and fantastic achievements of organisations and individuals who have engaged in the initiative.
“We believe that with more opportunities like this it will further encourage a shift in travel habits which helps fight climate change.
"The results also highlight the financial impact that car travel can have on our pockets, and how active travel options can help save money as well as the many other benefits.”
The Northern Ireland team involved in the The Active Travel Challenge awards ceremony held in Allstate in Belfast. Credit: Translink
Those who took part were celebrated at a special event held at Allstate NI in Belfast where winners were presented with prizes and certificates to mark their active travel efforts.
Workplaces that topped the Active Travel leader board include:
- small workplace winner (three to 19 employees) Team North Belfast
- workplace winner (20-89 employees) Datactics
- workplace winner (100-499 employees) RQIA (Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority)
- workplace winner (500-999 employees) Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council
- largest workplace winner (1000+ employees) Business Services Organisation (BSO).
Special recognition was also given to Derry City and Strabane District Council; the five Northern Ireland health trusts; and Translink, for their high levels of staff participation and record journey numbers.
Changing travel habits
Director of Service Operations at Translink, Ian Campbell, added: “Sustainable travel is a simple way we can all make a positive difference for the climate and it’s great to see the number of participants and active journeys logged increase so much year-on year.
“The figures clearly demonstrate the impact that changing travel habits can have, even over a short period of time.
"Building on this success, now is the perfect time to keep the momentum going and help change mindsets and habits by choosing healthier, cleaner and greener travel options for the many benefits they offer.”
Whilst the awards ceremony celebrated the achievements of the organisations that were involved, they also celebrated individual milestones made by competitors, including:
- most walking journeys – Tony Reid, North Belfast Team
- most bus journeys – Malavik Sreejith, Belfast Trust
- most cycling journeys – Martin Grimley, NISRA
- most train journeys – Peter O’Hare, Translink
Public Health Agency Chief Executive, Aidan Dawson congratulated all those who took part in this year’s Active Travel Challenge.
He said: “Building active travel into your working day can help contribute to meeting the recommended minimum amount of physical activity of 150 minutes each week which can improve sleep, help maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress.
"I would encourage everyone to try to build it into their daily lives as much as possible.”