Greater Manchester’s health leaders are coming together to support the actions needed to make active travel - whether that’s cycling, walking, skating or using mobility aids - an easier choice, for more people.

This renewed commitment comes as Greater Manchester’s 2020 Green Summit continues this week and the city region reflects on the significant increases in cycling and walking witnessed during the coronavirus lockdown.

Active travel could be walking to the shops, cycling on the school run, or other everyday journeys to get from place to place. In fact, 30% of trips under 1km in Greater Manchester are made by car – that’s just 15 minutes on foot. Greater Manchester’s Active Travel Public Health Manifesto sets out why active travel is important and the actions that need to be taken to promote it right across the city region.

Actions highlighted in the manifesto include:

  • More dedicated cycling/walking space
  • Safe cycling parking facilities
  • Prioritising walking and cycling-friendly ‘active neighbourhoods’
  • Reducing speed limits in residential areas to 20mph
  • Ensuring pavement space is not blocked/hindered by car parking
  • More cycling training
  • Schemes to boost access to bikes for those in lower income communities

Eleanor Roaf, Greater Manchester’s Climate Change and Sustainability Lead and Director of Public Health at Trafford Council, said:

“It’s no secret that moving more is good for our health and active travel is an easy way to fit more physical activity into our daily lives. As we face the continued risk of a global pandemic, taking care of both our physical and mental health is now more important than ever before.”

“At the same time, we know that lower income households are less likely to own a car but are disproportionately affected by air pollution. As part of our wider aims to address health inequalities, we must encourage active travel and make it an easier choice for those in lower income communities.”

“Of course, by reducing carbon emissions this form of travel also has wider benefits for our environment and the whole planet too. We need to be clear that climate change represents the greatest threat to the health and wellbeing of our communities.”

The third annual Greater Manchester Green Summit is being held virtually from 21 to 24 September – just over a year after both NHS and local authority climate emergency declarations. Greater Manchester’s ambitious carbon neutrality target of 2038 will mean unprecedented changes in many areas, including transport. The theme for this year’s summit is ‘Taking Action: Today, Tomorrow and Together’ and there was a specific focus on green transport and energy efficiency led by Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Olympic Cyclist Chris Boardman on Tuesday 22 September.

Sarah Price, Interim Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said:

“Many of us will have walked or cycled much more over the past six months than ever before. Whether that’s because we had more time, there was less traffic, or we simply needed to get out of the house. Whatever the reason, this is something we must capitalise and build on in the months and years ahead – it is an opportunity we cannot miss. Active travel is not only good for our health but it’s essential if we are to lower our carbon emissions and play our part in averting some of the worst impacts of climate change.”

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