Walking and cycling to boost health in south Bristol

Active travel, which includes cycling and walking, is a great way to take daily exercise and has a vital role to play in reducing congestion on local roads and tackling air pollution. It features in our Transport Strategy for Bristol, in which we set out our ambition to make walking the easy transport choice for our communities and to fully integrate cycling into the wider transport network, connecting people to jobs, schools, leisure and everyday facilities.

That’s why we are celebrating the news that we’ve been awarded £70,000 from the Department for Transport to design an active travel pilot to improve the health and wellbeing of people in south Bristol.

Our pilot will focus on three wards where there are comparatively low physical activity rates, including Filwood, Hartcliffe and Withywood, and Hengrove and Whitchurch Park.

The study, which will get underway soon, will look at the exercise needs of residents, what activities are available in the area, and who would benefit from being part of the trial. We’ll also review infrastructure across the area to see if there is anything stopping people from walking or cycling.

Our pilot project could see us offering one-to-one support, cycle centre courses, and group cycle rides and walks. Working with health and voluntary sector partners as well as local groups and charities, we will promote local walking and cycling routes, as well as provide training and bike maintenance courses, on top of low-cost bikes.

We are also looking to run taster sessions and fun days to promote all the ways local people can get involved with walking and cycling. Through the pilot, we’ll train more walk and cycle leaders as well as invest in bike storage and more bikes to loan out. Our aim is to give people the tools to be able to walk or cycle to maintain good health and make their journeys more pleasant experiences.

The study, which should be completed by the summer, will help us design a pilot scheme which, if successful, will provide a blueprint for us to introduce the active travel initiative to more of our local neighbourhoods.

Investing in active travel schemes will also help us as we work towards being carbon neutral by 2030. We all need to rethink how we travel, choosing more sustainable transport options. Walking and cycling are fantastic ways to reduce your own carbon footprint, and they have so many other benefits.

We’re looking forward to working with communities and partners in south Bristol to get people on their bikes and walking for a healthier and happier life.