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Northern Ireland’s Active Travel Challenge 2023 is launched in Belfast

The Active Travel Challenge in Northern Ireland which runs throughout the whole of June has been officially launched in Belfast.

The Active Travel Challenge is a friendly competition which encourages individuals and workplaces; community groups; or organisations to walk, wheel, scoot and use public transport for more of their everyday journeys this summer.

To take part, participants simply register at the event’s website and then use it to log any journey they make on foot, by bike or using public transport: the regular commute, a trip to the shops, the school run or business trip.

The journey log asks for the mode of transport,  the purpose of the journey and whether the participant travelled in a different way to normal.

The Active Travel Challenge is led by Sustrans in partnership with Translink, the Department for Infrastructure, Public Health Agency, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and Belfast City Council.

Caroline Bloomfield, Sustrans Director in Northern Ireland, said: ‘Each year we hear from people who have enjoyed a renewed love of walking, cycling and other active travel methods, thanks to the challenge. With so many benefits to health, household budgets, wellbeing and the climate, we would encourage everyone to have a go and see what steps they can take to build active travel into their routine.’ 

A number of prize draws will be made during May to encourage signup and they will continue throughout June to reward participation.  Enthusiastic active travellers could find themselves in five different prize draws for shopping vounchers during the first ten days.

In the middle of the month is Green Transport Week during which Translink Day Travel Passes are up for grabs and when the whole event is over, the top ten walkers, cyclists, bus and train travellers will go into draws for their category.

Workplaces are very much encouraged to participate and to spice things up there is a ‘Nemesis Challenge’ which allows business to follow the progress of rivals and respond accordingly.

In 2022, the Active Travel Challenge saw almost 9,000kg of CO2 saved by people opting to travel without using their cars. 

Aidan Dawson, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency, said: ‘We know that keeping physically active can improve our physical and mental health and wellbeing and quality of life, with as little as 30 minutes of moderate level physical activity most days of the week shown to help reduce anxiety, help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, while also improving our quality of sleep.

‘The Active Travel Challenge is a fun and interactive way to get moving more and highlights how incorporating physical activity into our daily lives, such as walking the kids to school or cycling to work, can have a positive impact on our health.

‘The PHA would encourage as many people as possible across Northern Ireland to take up the challenge this June and encourage family, friends and work colleagues to take part too.’ 

Pictured above at the launch of the 2023 Active Travel Challenge at Belfast City Hall are (from left) Fiona Meenan, Belfast Health Trust; Gerard Walls, Public Health Agency; Chris Conway, CEO Translink; Caroline Bloomfield, Director, Sustrans; John Walsh, Chief Executive, Belfast City Council; and Raymond McCullough, Active Travel Branch, DfI.

Photo: Brian Morrison

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