Are you ready to take on this year’s Active Travel Challenge?
This June people across the North West are being encouraged to leave their car at home and take part in the Active Travel Challenge in a bid to be more sustainable, save money and to boost physical and mental health.
From a short trip to the shop to the commute to work, the Active Travel Challenge encourages participants to switch up their usual routine and try walking, cycling or taking public transport as a cleaner, greener way to travel.
The joint initiative is free to sign up to and runs for the entire month of June.
Participants log their ‘active travel’ journeys on the online platform for a chance to win a of range prizes, including vouchers, travel tickets, gym passes and rewards with national and regional retailers.
The Active Travel Challenge is a partnership between Sustrans, Translink, the Department for Infrastructure, the Public Health Agency (PHA), Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and Belfast City Council, with the popular annual challenge open to individuals and organisations of any size across Northern Ireland to take part and help create habits for a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable lifestyle.
The Challenge is also a great way to stimulate a little friendly competition between organisations and indeed amongst teams and colleagues throughout June.
Commenting on this year’s challenge, Clive Watson, Assistant Area Route Manager (rail) at Translink, said: “Whether it’s bus or rail, walking or cycling, active travel in the North West is an easy and achievable way to make a small change which will make a big difference in creating a cleaner, greener environment.
“We’re encouraging everyone to get on board as part of this year’s challenge and start enjoying the many benefits of a less stressful and more cost-effective way to travel.”
As well as the month-long challenge to log more active journeys, Sustrans will host a series of events in the North West from the Active Travel Centre to help people to travel more actively by walking and cycling.
Translink will also host events locally to encourage more people to get on board with public transport.
Sustrans Director Caroline Bloomfield added: “Each year we hear from people who have enjoyed a renewed love of walking, cycling and other active travel methods, thanks to taking part in the Challenge.
“With so many benefits to health, household budgets, wellbeing and the climate, we would encourage everyone to have a go and see what steps they can take to build active travel into their routine.”
In 2022, the Active Travel Challenge saw almost 9,000kg of CO2 saved by people opting to travel by walking, cycling, taking public transport and even skateboarding instead of using the car.
Aidan Dawson, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency said: “We know that keeping physically active can improve our physical and mental health and wellbeing and quality of life, with as little as 30 minutes of moderate level physical activity most days of the week shown to help reduce anxiety, help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, while also improving our quality of sleep.
“The Active Travel Challenge is a fun and interactive way to get moving more and highlights how incorporating physical activity in to our daily lives, such as walking the kids to school or cycling to work, can have a positive impact on our health.
“The PHA would encourage as many people as possible across Northern Ireland to take up the challenge this June and encourage family, friends and work colleagues to take part too.”
Mayor Sandra Duffy, Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “The Active Travel Challenge is a great opportunity to get outdoors and get active.
“Not only does the challenge promote the positive health benefits from increasing activity outside, but it also promotes the positive impact which switching to active travel can have by helping to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Keep up to date with all the latest ATC action on social media using #GetMeActiveNITags: