The benefits of travelling more actively

Kate Cairns, editor of a new themed ICE journal issue on active travel, looks at the benefits of getting around under your own steam.

Increasing the uptake of active travel is essential for sustainability.
Increasing the uptake of active travel is essential for sustainability.

With increasing international focus on climate change demonstrated by the recent well-attended, high-profile United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris; the significant carbon emission contribution made by the transport sector; and ever-growing urban populations, a paradigm shift in the uptake of active travel is not only material but essential in moving towards more sustainable development.

Tonic to our ills?

Of course, reduced greenhouse gas emissions is far from being the only benefit of active travel. Transport under one's own steam will be the tonic to many of our modern day ills; obesity-related illness is set to inflict the biggest toll on UK health services over the next generation with childhood obesity rising rapidly. Road death is on course to be the biggest global killer by 2050.

Increased fitness, health and well-being; improved independent low-cost or free mobility to those older, younger and less-abled; better employee productivity; and greener cities free from pollution, congestion and danger is surely a vision of true triple-strand sustainability.

This topic seems timely, with the invitation for papers for the April 2016 themed issue of the ICE Engineering Sustainability journal on active travel achieving a record number of submissions and exceeding the capacity for one issue; a second issue on this theme will follow.

The papers in the first issue explore means to increase the uptake of active travel in children, opening our minds to make provisions for other small-wheeled modes beyond walking and cycling that will be particularly attractive to children; the practical barriers to the wider population in the adoption of travel using tricycles and bicycles with trailers; and issues with accurately estimating bicycle parking demand to facilitating desired uptake.

Stretching perceptions

I am delighted with this exciting edition comprising papers that stretch traditional perceptions of active travel and really prompt and inspire us to look to the future possibilities, as well as show so clearly how, if we can manage to facilitate active travel to all groups of society, we really will be engineering sustainability in its widest sense.

For more information please contact the ICE Proceedings editor Simon Fullalove on editor@ice.org.uk, telephone +44 (0)20 8744 2028.

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