1, Oct 2023
Market Towns and Active Travel
Active Travel is walking or cycling for the purpose of making a journey (also known as ‘purposeful journeys’) instead of using a car, motorbike, bus, train or other forms of motorised transport. It is one of the key strategies for tackling the nation’s obesity crisis and can deliver many health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and depression, as well as improving air quality and local productivity and wellbeing.
Market towns have a number of intrinsic advantages for supporting active travel, being easy to walk around and with many services within a short distance. However, they also have a range of challenges, with their built environment being primarily car-focused and poorly designed for walking and cycling. Creating a health-enabling built environment is central to tackling the obesity crisis and can be delivered through infrastructure and community activation projects.
Active Travel and Beyond: Sustainable Transportation in a Changing World
Our research used a combination of focus groups and go-along journeys to capture people’s perceptions of the opportunities and barriers to increasing the number of walks and cycles in their town. This was supplemented by follow-up interviews, ideally in person but also online dependant on participant preference.
Participants were broadly supportive of a mix of interventions to encourage more walking and cycling. They wanted to see improved off-road cycle routes that were better connected and safe for pedestrians. They were keen to see more signage highlighting routes and wanted road speeds to be reduced. More widely, they wanted to hear more about the positive impacts of Active Travel and a shift from feeling ‘allowed’ to cycle to being celebrated for doing so.