Getting more people walking, running or cycling on short journeys is the key aim of new plans announced by Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region.
In proposals that act upon his manifesto commitment to active travel, Major Jarvis has asked Professor Steve Haake, from Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellness Research Centre (AWRC), to look at the best examples of active travel plans from around the world.
He has also spoken to the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, about his “Beelines” project with Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman, to gain inspiration from good examples closer to home.
Mayor Jarvis said: “We are a region with a proud track record of providing the country with medal-winning Olympians, the backbone of the England football team and thousands of walkers, climbers, mountain bikers and runners.
“But we are also a region where too many people are living with health conditions that could be helped by living healthier lives.
“To make sure our plans for active travel are the best they can be, we need to see what is working elsewhere, not just from towns and cities in the UK but those around the world.
“This is why I’ve asked Professor Haake to look at the evidence and examples of international good practice so, together, we can identify ways our region can become fitter, healthier and more active.
“And this is also why I’m learning from examples here in the UK, such as the great work Mayor Andy Burnham and his cycling czar Chris Boardman are doing over the Pennines in Manchester.”
Further plans announced by Mayor Jarvis today include hosting an active travel summit for academics, policy experts, sustainable transport groups, cyclists and runners, recruiting an Active Travel Commissioner and ensuring that any devolved Transforming Cities Fund resources include a focus on promoting active travel.
He is also leading by example and has taken his first trips on a Mayoral bike, on loan from Russell’s Bike Shed at Sheffield railway station.
Professor Steve Haake, director of Sheffield Hallam University’s AWRC, said: “Active travel is an important issue for the Sheffield City Region as well as the country.
“We have many assets in this area: cycle schemes, wonderful parks and countryside, public transport systems, infrastructure and, importantly, people such as Mayor Jarvis who are committed to making this happen.
“I’m delighted to be involved in this project. At the AWRC one of our key aims is to help improve the health and wellbeing of the community in Sheffield by using research to come up with innovative solutions like this. Future generations will look back and wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.”
Research has shown that there is considerable scope for more active travel in the region.
In South Yorkshire there are 300,000 commuter journeys for distances shorter than 10 kilometres taking place every day, and parts of the region have some of the lowest cycling to work statistics in the country.
And, according to Public Health England, if everyone in a town of 150,000 people walked just 10 minutes more a day, 31 lives a year would be saved.
Locally, the Mayor is lending his backing to Love to Ride, a South Yorkshire’s scheme that aims to get more people cycling, more often. The free scheme has more than 200 local companies signed up, including Sheffield City Region and all four South Yorkshire local authorities, as well as the region’s universities and hospitals.
He will also be leading South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive’s “Little Big Changes” campaign, which demonstrates how making small changes to daily travel patterns can have a big impact.