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Week Three: Get Active Journeys!

Week THREE: Get Active Journeys!

Why be active?

Every week, most of us will undertake several journeys, whether it be to visit friends and family, the local shops, or commute to our workplace.  For the majority of us completing these trips the car has been, and continues to be, the automatic transport method of choice.

However, by replacing the car for at least some of these journeys and instead choosing to travel actively by walking, running or cycling, we can enjoy numerous benefits.

Why be active?
Why opt to travel actively?

Why opt to travel actively?

As well as providing an opportunity to build physical activity into your day, choosing to ditch the car for more active means of transport can provide lots of benefits, including:

  • Improved health and wellbeing – Replace the car with walking and cycling and gain the physical and mental health benefits associated with being active.
  • Improved fitness – Making the choice to travel actively can help you maintain or improve your physical stamina. As your fitness and confidence grows, so can the distances and journeys you cover.
  • Save money – Travelling actively can help you make some big savings by reducing your parking, fuel or public transport costs.
  • Arrive quickly and more reliably – Traffic, roadworks and accidents can all contribute to unwelcome and unforeseen delays when travelling by car. Walking and cycling provide us with more flexibility to avoid or adapt to these situations, offering a more reliable way of getting from A to B.
  • More travel options – Having the knowledge and confidence that you can travel actively should your vehicle or public transport fail you can offer peace of mind.
  • Remove stress of rush hour commute – Avoid the queues and road rage to start and finish your day in a much calmer state of mind.
  • Weight loss / management benefits – Travelling actively can be a great way to help shift the pounds or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Explore your local surroundings – Getting to know and use some of the cycle paths and quieter roads to complete your journeys can increase your knowledge about your local environment and community.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint – By choosing to reduce our car journeys, we can all do our bit to improve the air quality where we live and reduce the impact of climate change on our planet.
  • Reduced risk of illness – Especially during the pandemic, finding ways to travel that minimise your contact with others will help reduce your risk of illness.
  • Enjoyment! – Riding a bike and walking can be really enjoyable and positive for our wellbeing.

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How to get started

What’s stopping us?

With travelling actively offering us so many benefits, what are the reasons stopping many of us from replacing the car for walking and cycling for at least some of our journeys.  Below are some of the main barriers that prevent people from leaving their car at home with some suggestions on how to overcome them.

  • Not fit enough / distance is too far – Many of us lack confidence in our ability to travel actively due to concerns over our fitness levels or the distances involved. However, given a trial run you might be surprised to realise that walking and cycling is an option for many of your journeys.  It’s important to remember that travelling actively is about transport, not sport.  It’s not a race, so if you’re cycling take it easy on your speed and, whether your walking or cycling, you might want to build up to longer journeys as your fitness increases.  Also, remember that the most direct route might not always be the easiest or most enjoyable so it’s worth using route planners that can provide a number of different options for you to take.
  • Lack of confidence – If you want to get away from the worst of the traffic, consider walking or cycling on quieter backstreets or foot/cycle paths for a more relaxing and enjoyable journey. For wannabe cyclists, you can get some great tips through online videos and websites to help you improve your cycling confidence as well as tutorials on maintaining your bike.
  • No bike / can’t afford a bike – If you want to start cycling but don’t have access to a bike, there are a few options you might want to consider. Investigate if your employer offers a Cycle to Work Scheme.  If so, you could get access to a brand-new bike, make substantial cost savings and benefit from the ability to spread your payments interest free over an agreed period.  Alternatively, you might want to head online or contact your local bike shops for options to purchase a second-hand bike.  If you’re based in Norwich, you can pay as you ride using the Beryl Bikes which are located in bays in and around Norwich City Centre or try before you buy using Pushing Ahead’s Cycle Loan Scheme where you can borrow a bike and accessories for up to 4 weeks for just a £50 deposit.  A limited number of electric bikes are available to loan too!
  • Carrying your stuff – For cyclists looking to carry equipment for work or transport purchases from the local shop, you might want to consider investing in a luggage rack and panniers. To keep your load as light as possible, remember to only carry the essentials!
  • Is there something else stopping you? – There is lots of advice online to support active travel. Sustrans, British Cycling and Cycling UK provide lots of information on their websites about how to overcome some of the most common barriers that stop people from travelling actively.  See further signposting links below.
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Further signposting

Sustrans – The UK’s sustainable transport charity.

British Cycling – The nation’s largest cycling organisation and the national governing body for cyclesport.  Commute Smart is a series of videos covering all aspects of commuting.

Cycling UK – A national organisation that supports cyclists and promotes bicycle use.

Cycle Streets – A not-for-profit United Kingdom organisation provides a free-to-use national cycle journey planner for the United Kingdom.

Norwich Pedalways – Norwich has seven colour-coded cycle routes – totalling 58 miles – known as pedalways. You can download a pdf version of the Norwich cycle map which shows the seven pedalways across the city.

Great Yarmouth Cycle Map – The cycle map takes in Great Yarmouth and the surrounding area. It includes seven routes which cover roads and dedicated cycleways.

Keep Moving Suffolk – Aimed at encouraging everyone to build movement into their everyday life.