In August 2012, the Department for Transport published a new official statistics release, ‘Local area walking and cycling: England', presenting results relating to walking and cycling prevalence at local authority level. Updates to these statistics were released in April 2013 and April 2014, including comparisons to identify any changes in cycling prevalence over the last year. The data in this series is from the Active People Survey, a household telephone survey which is run by Sport England.
Research and guidance on the benefits of active travel on mental wellbeing
In September this year NICE (National Institute for Health & Care Excellence) reported on a study showing how commuting by walking or cycling 'can boost mental wellbeing'. Researchers found that people who walked or cycled to work benefitted from improved mental wellbeing compared with those who travelled by car, supporting NICE recommendations that active travel can help boost mental wellbeing.
Researchers, publishing in the journal Preventive Medicine, found that people who walked or cycled to work benefitted from improved mental wellbeing in comparison with those who travelled by car. Data from a series of long-running studies showed that active travel improved mental wellbeing in a number of areas such as concentration, the ability to make decisions and enjoy normal daily activities, and that it reduced the feeling of being constantly under strain. This is in addition to the known physical health benefits associated with walking and cycling, such as reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Carried out at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School and the Centre for Health Economic at the University of York, the research included data on around 18,000 commuters from across the UK over a period of 18 years.
NICE guidance on walking and cycling recognises the benefit of active travel on physical and mental health, and aims to make it easier for people to use these methods as regular forms of transport. The guidance is aimed at schools, workplaces, local authorities and the NHS to encourage them to promote walking and cycling.