An Isle of Man Government priority is to increase the number of people using more active forms of travel. Dave Roberts, of the Active Travel Staff Group, explains more.
Active travel may be defined as using walking or cycling or other self-propelled means as an alternative to motorised transport for making necessary journeys, such as travelling to work, or attending an appointment.
Active travel brings about a multitude of benefits, not only to the individual undertaking the activity but to the wider environment too.
There is strong evidence that regular physical activity reduces the risk of a range of health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, some cancers, depression and cognitive decline. Making it easy to increase physical activity as part of a daily routine such as journeying to work is seen as significant in improving health.
Active travel is also beneficial as a means to reduce congestion with reduced numbers of cars on the roads; improve local community environments and opportunities for social interaction and of course reduce vehicle emissions which will help to contribute to the Government’s targets to reduce carbon emissions by 2050.
In wishing to increase the numbers of those self-propelling themselves along their journeys, Government recognises that people will be encouraged if the things that put them off are removed or reduced. To this end, routes have been planned which link popular residential and work locations. Work is planned to make life safe, easy and pleasant for walkers, cyclists and other self-propellers using these routes. They avoid big hills (where possible) and will have some segregation from vehicles; active travel friendly junctions and crossing points etc.
Businesses are being encouraged to help their staff and customers by providing active travel facilities such as secure bike storage and shower and changing facilities, and allowing employees to take advantage of the Government’s Cycle to Work Scheme.
The initial programme focuses upon the Douglas area as it is reasoned that most fairly short journeys will be made there, and therefore the biggest impact made; but also includes improvements to the Heritage Way which runs along the old railway line between Douglas and Peel and the areas around schools and University College Isle of Man.
Other initiatives are planned to help those who may need to make longer journeys but may wish to undertake part of the journey actively. Park and ride (your bike) sites are envisaged around the periphery of Douglas to allow for this and help to reduce car use and parking demand in the town.
Encouraging people to cycle or walk to work is a meritorious goal in its own right, but I hope that many of those that do choose to change their means of transport start to enjoy it and incorporate the activities into their leisure time as well.
There is so much of this beautiful Island that can only be seen, or is better seen once we get out of our cars and move between places at a slower speed.
OK, we don’t live in the flattest place on earth (it wouldn’t look nearly as good if it was), and it sometimes rains (get a good jacket) but we do have lots of generally quiet roads leading to lovely places, so once you have got fit and healthier by traveling to work, you will be ready to walk, cycle or run for fun.
Bikes with electric motor assistance (ebikes) seem to becoming ever more popular. The good news is that they count as active travel (the motor only helps you if you pedal), so even people who might be daunted by the thought of riding up the hill that they would need to tackle to and from work, needn’t worry about it any more!