Workers Urged To Join The Active Travel Challenge

Employers across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to sign-up to the Active Travel Challenge for a healthier and more environmentally-friendly commute.

The Department for Infrastructure, Public Health Agency, Sustrans and Translink have joined forces to launch the new initiative which will take place throughout June. 
Employers are asked to encourage staff to walk, cycle or take public transport for some of their journeys to, from and during work. Participants can log their 'active travel' journeys online and can compete with colleagues and other companies to see who makes the most journeys. 
Each week of the month will have a different theme and a range of prizes and incentives are up for grabs to motivate employees to join the challenge.

Encouraging organisations to get involved, Translink's Employee Support Officer Una Carson said: "Following the success of Translink's Corporate Challenge over the past three years which saw employers encourage staff to use the bus or train for their daily commute, we have set the bar even higher in 2019, joining with partner agencies to deliver a month-long active travel challenge that kicks off with Bus + Train Week. 

"Research shows that people who take public transport are more active, clocking up additional steps and burning more calories as they walk to and from the bus or train. By incentivising staff to travel more actively throughout June, employers can help improve the health and wellbeing of workers, whilst reducing traffic congestion and creating better air quality for everyone who lives here."
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Steven Patterson, Sustrans Delivery Manager, said: "Many commuters spend a large chunk of their day sitting in traffic jams. We believe you can combine active travel into all or part of your daily commute. We are really keen to attract the ordinary, mainly sedentary worker to take part and enjoy the difference getting active as part of your daily routine can make to your life. The Active Travel Challenge is a great way to get started."

Meanwhile Brendan Bonner, Assistant Director of Public Health, Health Improvement at the PHA, said: "This partnership initiative is a fantastic opportunity for workers across NI to use the month of June to try out active travel as a means of commuting to work and we would encourage people to embrace active travel as part of their daily lives. 

"Building active travel into your working day through walking and cycling can help contribute to meeting the Chief Medical Officers' recommended amount of physical activity of 150 minutes each week. 
Research shows that people who are physically active can reduce their risk of developing chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and respiratory conditions. It can also improve sleep, help maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress and anxiety."

Encouraging people to make sustainable travel choices is a key ambition in the draft Programme for Government. The Department is committed to working collaboratively with others to increase the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport, according to Lynda Hurley from the Safe and Sustainable Travel Division.
 She explained: "There are many benefits in choosing active travel options- to your health, the environment and your pocket!  Many people continue to use the private car for what are relatively short journeys. In fact, around one third of all journeys that we all make every day are less than two miles- a distance that could be walked or cycled.  A further one third of journeys are less than five miles. One small change can make a big difference. Challenge yourself to get active and start enjoying the benefits."

Registration for the challenge is free and prizes up for grabs include shopping vouchers, sports watches and Translink tickets.

Find out more by visiting the website here or emailing challenge@sustrans.org.uk.


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