‘Active travel and physical activity has to become the norm in communities,’ according to the Public Health White Paper published this week.
That shift in behaviour has been branded vital by the Paper in view of the country’s growing obesity problem – set to cost a whopping £50 billion a year by 2050.
Sustrans is calling on the Government to back its words by commiting to backing cycling, with detailed plans, reductions in traffic speeds and volumes and – crucially – shifting transport investment to healthy ways of travelling like cycling.
“Walking and cycling for everyday journeys are recognised as the most practical, inexpensive and accessible ways for people to include physical activity into their daily lives,” insisted Sustrans heath director Philip Insall.
“They are crucial elements in tackling the growing problem of obesity and related illnesses, and the huge costs that come with it – forecast to be £50 billion a year by 2050. The White Paper rightly recognises the importance of active travel, but it lacks detail on how the Health and Transport departments will make it happen. This is doubly disappointing given that walking and cycling measures are much cheaper, and much better value than traditional transport investment.”
“We are already demonstrating that if safe and attractive walking and cycling routes exist, people will use them. If schoolchildren are helped to overcome the barriers to travelling by foot or bike then they happily do so. Government policy needs to recognise this and respond to it with serious investment.”
The London 2012 Olympic Games legacy aims to help two million people become more active.