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What is active travel?

Two cyclists ride side by side in a park

Active travel refers to ways of travelling that involve a level of activity to get from place to place. It includes walking, jogging, cycling (including e-bikes), wheeling, scooting, or skating, and making trips by wheelchair or mobility scooter.


Encouraging active travel is a powerful way to reduce your environmental impact. Walking, wheeling, and cycling are the most environmentally friendly ways to travel. It also has lots of other benefits: 

Personal benefits

  • Physical health benefits of higher activity levels.
  • Improves mental wellbeing.
  • Greater opportunity to socialise.
  • Reduces travel costs.
  • Improves respiratory health through greater exposure to fresh air.
  • Positive way to explore new places and move around urban areas faster.

Wider benefits

  • Improves health of individuals leading to reduced pressure on health services.
  • Lowers carbon emissions, which can help improve air quality.
  • Reduces traffic and travel times.
  • Supports thriving communities and inclusion. 
  • Reduces economic inequalities. 

How can your organisation get involved?

If you and others live close to your activity, group, or organisation and already travel in an active way – great! Please keep going and spread the word. 

For some, this may be more challenging or may not have been a consideration before. Don’t worry: there are lots of ways you can help promote active travel, including:

Doing it yourself!
People often feel more comfortable if they can see others trying something new too.
Communicate the benefits
You could do this via your newsletter, by putting posters up at your space or facility, or regularly emailing and talking to people.
Bike racks
If you own, lease, or rent a facility or space, see if it’s got bike racks and, if it hasn’t, work with the operator to see if some can be installed or made available to your people.
Storage space
Provide space to store helmets, walking shoes, or other extra kit people may need to actively travel to your sessions.
Local schemes
Take a look at local or central government websites for initiatives in your area that you can take part in or source funding from.
Nearby routes
Search online and promote the cycling and walking routes near your venue.
Think about wheelchair ramps and accessible ways to ensure people can actively travel to your site with ease.
Address problems
Identify any barriers to active travel, for example a lack of street lighting on your nearby roads, and contact your council about addressing these issues.
Offer help
Be prepared to answer questions on safety and identify places where people can buy helmets, reflective kit, or any other essentials to feel safe on their journey.
Write a plan
Have an active travel champion or develop an active travel plan.

Kent County Council's active travel strategy

Remember, small actions can make a big difference. Even if just a few volunteers, participants, or staff members swap a drive for a walk, it’ll be contributing to the wider battle against climate change and the push for improved public health.

Of course, some people may live a long distance from your activities and find active travel a challenging solution. If this is the case, there are other things you can promote to help fight climate change, including promoting lift-sharing, using trains, or local buses.

Putting up posters about lift sharing and local public transport routes can really help. Using electronic bikes (e-bikes) can also be a productive way to get to your destination faster, tackle hilly routes or just provide a bit of extra assistance for the journey. Ask people to consider other times they could actively travel, like to school, work or the shops. 

Further information and support

We know it’s hard to balance planning for change alongside the delivery of activities, keeping people safe, and dealing with the day-to-day challenges that running or supporting your organisation presents.

That’s why we’ve put everything you need to know here! Take a look at where you can find more information, locate funding to enhance your active travel offer, and get more expert guidance. 

The climate crisis is affecting us all and could seriously impact our ability to take part in sport and physical activity if we don’t take action now.

Explore our website for other ways to become more environmentally sustainable, find some examples of organisations that are promoting sustainability, and recap on the wider health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity.