“We will promote and support more active travel (walking and cycling). We will set measurable targets for this health enhancing behaviour.”
The following provides background and supporting information to help organisations understand what this pledge sets out to achieve and how, by becoming a Responsibility Deal partner, you can help deliver this pledge.
What this pledge sets out to achieve, and why it is important
This pledge will increase the number of journeys people make on foot or by bike or by other active modes of travel.
This pledge asks business, voluntary, community and other organisations to support and promote active travel opportunities to their employees, customers, and local communities and to measure the impacts of their actions.
Two-thirds of the journeys people make are less than five miles – a distance which many people could cycle in half an hour. More than half of these trips are currently taken by car. A fifth of the journeys people make are under one mile – a distance which most people can walk in around 20 minutes.
Walking and cycling are simple, low cost and effective ways for people to build physical activity into their daily routines and to achieve the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations for physical activity. They can play a role in delivering cost savings for businesses.
Urban transport congestion, road accidents and poor air quality cost the econmony approximately £10 billion per annum. In many congested towns and cities cycling can be as quick an option for commuting as any other option. It is often more reliable and makes for a fitter and more productive workforce. There are wider benefits such as reduced congestion, reduced carbon emissions, improved air quality and improved social interaction.
Benefits to public health
The health benefits of regular physical activity (including active travel programmes) are significant and well evidenced, as are the health risks of long periods of sedentary behaviour. Regular physical activity helps reduce the risks of developing long-term/chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and some cancers. People who are physically active reduce their of developing stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent and the risk of premature death by up to 30 per cent. For older people, adopting a physically active lifetsyle can significantly enhance mobility and balance, as well as reduce the risk of falling and hip fractures.
The wider benefits include helping people maintain a healthy weight, contributing to better mental health – helping to combat depression and lead to an improved sense of wellbeing.
Helping inactive people to undertake low or moderate levels of activity will produce the greatest health gains and a much reduced risk of developing long-term/chronic conditions. Promoting walking is one of the easiest ways to get the most sedentary people more active and the potential health gains are significant.
Benefits to employers/employees
Increasing active travel will not only generate clear benefits for individuals but also for business, communities, the environment and the wider economy.
Increasing active travel can reduce congestion and lower carbon emissions. It can also bring clear business benefits. In many congested towns and cities walking and cycling can provide better journey time reliability for staff and a more productive workforce.
Promoting active travel as part of a wider health and wellbeing programme for your employees can reduce absenteeism, keep people economically active for longer, and increase your productivity and prosperity. Research has shown, that in terms of health alone, the benefits of promoting active travel are about £2.50 for every £1 spent.
By promoting physical activity opportunities you send a clear signal that your organisation takes the health and wellbeing of its employees seriously. Employees are also more likely to take increased responsibility for their own health and wellbeing if they see a genuine commitment at senior management level.
How you can deliver this pledge
There are a number of ways that organisations can support and promote active travel opportunities to their employees and customers.
As an employer, you could encourage more active travel by your staff by providing secure, safe and accessible cycle parking, good quality changing, showering and locker facilities or the provision of training, reward or incentive programmes to achieve targets for more cycling. You could also sign up to the Cycle to Work scheme to help your employees offset the cost of cycling equipment and save on tax. You could also consider the feasibility of offering Bikeability training for employees to give them the confidence to cycle to work.
As a retailer, you could encourage more of your customers to walk or cycle to your stores or sites. You could promote local walking and cycling routes to your customers, particularly those who don’t drive. You could provide accessible and secure cycle parking/storage or run incentive schemes to reward those who travel to stores by bike or on foot.
Support from Responsibility Deal partners
A wide range of resources is available to support organisations to deliver more active travel. Responsibility Deal partners Sustrans, the National Cyclists Organisation (CTC) and Walk England are willing to work with any organisations who are interested in increasing the number of people walking and cycling. Their websites include resources which you may find helpful.
Your pledge delivery plan
Shortly after signing up, partners will be asked to provide pledge delivery plans, laying out how they intend to meet each of the pledges they have signed up to. They will have up to 500 words to describe their plans for each pledge they are signed up to. All delivery plans will be published on this website.
Reporting progress on your pledge
Partners will be asked to report on their progress by the end of April each year. For some pledges, partners will be asked to report using pre-defined quantitative measures, while for others they will be asked for a narrative update. Further information on the reporting arrangements for each pledge is available. All annual updates will be published on this website.
We are currently developing a web-based system that will allow partners to complete their delivery plans and annual updates online from 2013.