People across Northern Ireland are being urged to leave the car at home and take part in the Active Travel Challenge. The joint initiative encourages the public to try walking, cycling and taking public transport as an alternative to the car. Participants will not only be in with the chance to win prizes, but to create new habits for a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable lifestyle.
Translink, the Department for Infrastructure, Public Health Agency (PHA), Sustrans, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and Belfast City Council are all backing the challenge and are encouraging large and small businesses across Northern Ireland take part.
With the rising cost of living, an appetite to make greener choices that benefit the environment. A return to the office, even in a hybrid model, is a unique opportunity to try out new ways to not only get to work, but to take a break from working at home and get moving outdoors.
This collaborative drive aims to inspire people to adopt greener travel options that will prioritise their health and wellbeing and support Northern Ireland’s ‘green’ economic recovery and progress towards a low-carbon future.
Prizes up for grabs
It’s free to register and participants can log their ‘active travel’ journeys online throughout June. There is a different theme each week of the month and a range of prizes up for grabs, including a range of vouchers, travel tickets and rewards with national and regional retailers.
Translink Director of Service Operations Ian Campbell said: “Taking public transport, walking or cycling, is not only an easy way to add in daily exercise, but it saves you money and creates time for yourself and your mental health.
This year we have added more than 100 zero emission buses to our fleet, as well as tap on technology to allow contactless payments on a range of bus services. We are transforming public transport to make it more attractive and easier to use, so more people make it their first choice for travel.”
Public Health Agency Chief Executive, Aidan Dawson added: “Building active travel into your working day can help contribute to meeting the recommended amount of physical activity of 150 minutes each week.
Research shows that physical activity can improve sleep, help maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress. It also reduces the risk of developing chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, and respiratory conditions.”
Sustrans Director Caroline Bloomfield said hybrid working gives a new opportunity to try active travel methods: “This year we are encouraging everyone to get active on their everyday journeys. Instead of sitting in a traffic jam or spending time looking for car parking, why not try walking or cycling as part of your commute, shopping trip or for leisure.
As many of us return to some form of office working there is a great opportunity to change how we travel to work. The Active Travel Challenge is a great way to kick-start being active in your daily routine and make the change to a healthier lifestyle that will also benefit the environment.”
Chief Executive of Belfast City Council, John Walsh said the challenge offers an opportunity to try something new: “As a council, we want to encourage more people to walk and cycle and in turn, improve their physical health and mental wellbeing while reducing their carbon footprint. The Active Travel Challenge provides a fantastic platform to encourage people out of their cars.”