Active Travel is journeys made on foot, by bicycle, e-cycle or scooter as opposed to by car or bus. This can include a walk to the shops, school or work and trips around town. For many people, swapping a journey by car for walking or cycling can mean reducing the number of miles driven and thus reduce air pollution and congestion.
It can also have significant benefits to health, wellbeing and social connectivity. This is because the activity increases physical and mental fitness, provides time outdoors in nature, improves relationships with friends and family and reduces stress levels. In addition, changing to active travel can reduce carbon emissions and help us reach our net-zero carbon targets.
The Road to Wellness: Transforming Your Lifestyle with Active Travel
The current state of evidence for the health impacts of Active Travel is predominantly cross-sectional and therefore it can be difficult to determine the direction of causation, i.e. does Active Travel cause improved health or does better health make people more likely to use active travel?
For commuters, incorporating cycling into the daily commute may be an important way to meet recommended minimum levels of physical activity. It has been found that cycling to the workplace can significantly increase levels of physical activity and, for some, this can provide a lifelong pattern of behaviour.
The value of health-related benefits can be estimated using a willingness to pay approach. This involves calculating the potential reduction in Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) due to active travel versus inactivity and comparing this with an estimate of the value of an additional DALY gained through more activity.