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Active travel overboard on COVID cruise

COVID-19 makes active travel more important, not less so.

Climate change and active travel are soooo l’année dernière. This year we have fires, smoke, hailstones, and a global pandemic. In between all of that we lost active travel somewhere and somehow. The UK, however, did not!

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The following quotes are from “Why active travel is so important for communities“, Mark Kemp, 13 August 2020. Mark Kemp is the chair of ADEPT’s Transport and Connectivity Board, UK.

Active travel brings many obvious benefits to the environment – the Committee on Climate Change recognised that is an essential element of the transition to a net-zero carbon economy, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. Whilst this is true, it also generates health, economic, and social benefits, can contribute to improved wellbeing and help to prevent or manage a range of chronic health conditions. It can also contribute to economic performance by reducing congestion. Active travel is, therefore, a vital component of the transport solution.”

Why active travel is so important for communities“, Mark Kemp, 13 August 2020
Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com
Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

Canberra.bike thinks, put like that, it seems pretty obvious, but in the ACT we – like everyone else – have COVID-19 and therefore no time to think about active travel.

What is different about the UK? They have COVID-19, too, as well as climate change, and all the other challenges thrown at us in 2020. Same problems, different response. How can we make sense of this?

ADEPT had the following to say.

“Active travel is, and should continue to be, a top priority for policymakers and planners. Local authorities already have tools available to assist with this, including refocusing budgets, linking to climate emergency declarations, and leading by example… Local authorities have also introduced reduced waiting times at pedestrian crossings, installing temporary roadworks and signage, and reallocating road space. Despite the significant uptake of active travel during the lockdown and its relaxation phases, we know that our members also need to further develop their training and promotional work.”

“It is not just about physical measures and we need to encourage the public to select active travel more often. Working with behavioural change experts we can help to deliver enhanced project outcomes that help people make the appropriate travel choice for the journey they are making.”

“ADEPT recognises that a major challenge to active travel is public perception. We need to consider all groups of society, looking at barriers to active travel and consider how it can become the normal, accepted way to move around. However, there is an opportunity to tap into people who want to embrace this change – we need to provide facilities and infrastructure for this growing group of people, who want to use active travel more frequently.”

“We cannot rely on the emergence of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles alone, and we must win the argument that active travel is the most sustainable option, which will make a huge contribution to climate targets.”

Why active travel is so important for communities“, Mark Kemp, 13 August 2020
Photo by Luca Nardone on Pexels.com

Further work needs to be done.

“This needs to include working with other stakeholders and their communities to understand their needs and may include identifying key gaps in existing active travel networks, identifying areas where more generous facilities are needed, and delivering new infrastructure.”

“There is also a need for government to play a central role in championing active travel and provide leadership at a national level. Additionally, there is a need to put the right policies and long-term funding (both capital and revenue) in place to enable local authorities to undertake behavioural and promotional work as well as develop, deliver and maintain the supporting infrastructure.”

Why active travel is so important for communities“, Mark Kemp, 13 August 2020
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He concludes:

“We need to be brave now with our transport network and ensure these changes become a permanent, viable component of the transport solution.”

Why active travel is so important for communities“, Mark Kemp, 13 August 2020

Canberra.bike agrees. With the ACT Election at our door, more could be expected.

The Active Travel policy position can be found on the ADEPT website.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

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