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Impact of COnstructing Non-motorised Networks and Evaluating Changes in Travel
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2. Cross-sectoral benefits of an increase in walking and cycling

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2. Cross-sectoral benefits of an increase in walking and cycling

Summary

Increasing walking and cycling in the population as a whole would help to address goals in three complementary areas of public policy.

First, with respect to travel, traffic congestion has continued to increase; the air quality, noise and other environmental impacts of road traffic continue to cause concern; and the rate of improvement of road safety has slowed, particularly with respect to the incidence of fatal road accidents (DfT, 2007). Transport research on Smarter Choices policy interventions has demonstrated that a modal shift from car travel to more benign modes of transport (walking, cycling or public transport) of around a half could be achieved in the DfT’s three Sustainable Travel Demonstration Towns (Sustrans, 2007). Individualised marketing of these modes of transport to households has been found to be effective in promoting their use among motivated participants (Cairns et al., 2004, Ogilvie et al., 2007). A shift towards walking and cycling in the population at large would also reduce the socially divisive and inequitable effects of a transport system dominated by less sustainable modes (Woodcock et al., 2007).

Second, with respect to physical activity, walking and cycling offer an ideal opportunity for people to incorporate more moderate-intensity physical activity into their daily lives; two-thirds of UK adults would benefit from being more physically active, thereby reducing their risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease (Chief Medical Officer, 2004). A growing body of evidence, mostly from cross-sectional studies, suggests that people who live in supportive environments, such as areas with safe, convenient walking and cycling routes to local destinations, are more likely to walk or cycle than those who do not (e.g. Committee on Physical Activity, Health, Transportation, and Land Use, 2005); improving the infrastructure for walking and cycling has also recently been identified as one of the most important strategies for tackling obesity in the UK (Foresight, 2007).

Third, with respect to carbon, the current draft climate change bill commits the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60% between 1990 and 2050, but it is widely accepted that this will not be achieved by technological innovation alone (e.g. Potter, 2007). Cars largely dominate surface transport carbon emissions, with a highly unequal distribution of emissions amongst the population (Brand and Boardman, 2008). Targeting the high (car) users is key to successful changes in travel behaviour and related carbon emissions.

Links

  • Sustrans (2007)
  • DfT (2007)
  • Cairns et al. (2004)
  • Ogilvie et al. (2007)
  • Woodcock et al. (2007)
  • Chief Medical Officer (2004)
  • Committee on Physical Activity, Health, Transportation, and Land Use (2005)
  • Foresight (2007)
  • Potter (2007)
  • Brand and Boardman (2008)

site by Christian Brand, ECI