How active travel will support the Environment Bill
A webinar, on Friday 11 December, led by the Co Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling and Walking (APPGCW), will explore how cycling and walking will be key elements in securing the aims of the Environment Bill.
Dr William Bird, founder of Intelligent Health and the popular Beat the Street activity game will speak alongside Ruth Cadbury MP, Co Chair, of the APPGCW Selaine Saxby MP, Co Chair, of the APPGCW Charles Johnston, Executive Director, Sport England, Greg Fell, Director of Public Health for Sheffield and Roger Geffen, Head of Policy, Cycling UK.
The aim of the Bill is to build a greener future, to create a new domestic framework for environmental governance and to provide commitments to secure improvement on air quality, natural environment and biodiversity, water and resource efficiency.
Encouraging more active travel — that is transport such as walking and cycling,— has a huge impact on the environment and air quality and is a vital component of the Bill.
Dr Bird has spent his career highlighting the importance of connection to nature and being active through walking and cycling for our health and that of our environment. Enabling communities to connect with the parks, woodlands and waterways on their doorstep means people valuing nature which in turn leads to pro-environmental behaviour. Pro-environmental behaviour includes travel choices, energy use and waste. Making active travel options, such as walking and cycling fun and accessible and empowering people to take everyday action to reduce their carbon footprint and generate cleaner air for all needs to be a key aim for the Environment Bill.
He has encouraged whole communities to adopt active travel and connect to their local spaces through the Beat the Street game that he developed in 2013. Beat the Street has been played in more than 100 locations across the UK including whole regions, cities and towns, and to date, more than 1.2m people have taken part.
Beat the Street provides an evidence-based, population-level, cost-effective behaviour change programme which increases active travel, physical activity. It crucially connects individuals with their local environment and supports long-term behaviour change by making simple modifications to everyday habits to increase activity by walking and cycling.
The game has an unrivalled reach;
- on average 13% of the population takes part.
- 98% of primary schools take part
- 49% of participants are adults
- 72% of all registered adults are women
- 12% of players have a long-term condition with 4% a disability
Across all programmes, active travel has seen positive results with a 12% increase in people walking or cycling on five or more days per week. This is sustained behaviour change, with 75% of participants still maintaining this level of active travel six months later.
The game also helps improve the air quality around schools; nitrogen dioxide is vastly reduced during the Beat the Street game.
- There was a 33% reduction in air pollution (nitrogen dioxide) outside schools during the game, in Blaby, Leicestershire
- There was a 26% reduction in number of cars arriving at school gates in the London Borough of Hounslow
- The Beat the Street game in Eastbourne saw a 42% increase in Beat Box taps on World Car Free Day
Dr Bird said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that change is possible and we cannot go back to the old ways. We believe that there are plenty of opportunities to encourage people to develop new lifestyle habits such as walking and cycling to school or work.
“Active travel is integral in the move towards a net-zero carbon economy and also provides other health, economic, and social benefits such as air quality and a healthier community.
“However, the key to success here is to really engage people during the consultation stage and ensure any feedback is taken on board to ensure they buy into the policy. Behaviour change needs to be collaborative and organic.”