An Action Plan is being drawn up by the Isle of Man Government to encourage more people to be physically active as part of their daily routine.
Work to promote walking and cycling for short trips will be led by the Department of Infrastructure in partnership with Public Health and other Government agencies.
The long-term vision is to create a culture and environment where alternatives to motorised transport are natural and realistic choices for people of all ages.
The introduction of an Active Travel Strategy is an objective in the Programme for Government, with the aim of achieving a wide range of social, economic, environmental and health benefits.
The next steps in the process will be informed by feedback to a public consultation held during the summer. The consultation attracted 379 responses, with the majority of people supportive of the proposals. 82% of respondents agreed with the long-term vision for active travel and 87% supported the proposed definition of active travel.
Work will continue across Government to take forward a strategy and an action plan to increase the number of people who choose to walk, jog or cycle for short everyday journeys with a purpose, such as commuting to work.
This will likely focus on creating safe and convenient walking and cycling networks, improving facilities, enhancing education for all road users, encouraging a shift in behaviour to support active travel and developing community partnerships.
Particular emphasis will be placed on promoting more active forms of travel among school children and for people who work within 2.5 miles of Douglas town centre.
Active travel is considered an effective way of improving people’s physical and mental health. It can also help to reduce traffic congestion and lower carbon emissions, resulting in better air quality.
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK said: ‘There was a good response to the public consultation and support for many of the principles and ideas. People’s suggestions, comments and criticisms will help to shape our future plans. We believe active travel is a simple and low-cost way for most people to include physical activity in their daily routines. This could play a part in tackling obesity and supporting efforts to make our health and social care services more sustainable.’
He added: ‘Many journeys we make are less than a couple of miles, so there is great potential for people to leave their cars at home and make walking and cycling everyday choices to get around. We recognise that active travel is not practical or possible for some people and that there are barriers to participation for others. However, countries like Holland and Denmark have really embraced the concept of active travel and are reaping the rewards. We want to support local people to take simple but positive steps towards more active lives as part of our work to make the Island a special place to live and work.’