Northern Ireland workplaces unite to encourage more active and greener travel

Over 70 workplaces across Northern Ireland have already signed up to the 2024 Active Travel Challenge taking place throughout June.

In a collective effort to promote healthier lifestyles and support environmental sustainability over 70 workplaces across Northern Ireland have already signed up to the 2024 Active Travel Challenge taking place throughout June.

The challenge encourages participants to incorporate walking, cycling, wheeling, and public transport into their daily journeys and aims to highlight the numerous benefits of active travel, including improved health and wellbeing, reduced traffic congestion, decreased carbon emissions and enhanced air quality.

A recent report[1] showed that only 5% of Belfast residents cycle five or more days a week, and 12% use public transport, compared to the 51% who drive, highlighting the significant potential for growth in active travel. By choosing more sustainable modes to get around participants will be helping to bring about a modal shift in transport greatly supporting Northern Ireland’s commitment to net-zero targets.

Commenting on this year’s Active Travel Challenge, David Cowan, Head of Commercial Operations at Translink said, “The Active Travel Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for businesses and individuals to make a real difference. By participating, they are not only improving their health and wellbeing but also supporting environmental targets.

“This initiative is particularly timely as we prepare for the operational opening of the new Belfast Grand Central Station this autumn. This state-of-the-art facility will significantly improve connectivity across Northern Ireland, making sustainable travel even more attractive and more accessible than ever,” David concluded.

Clare Pollock, Head of Sustrans in Northern Ireland said: “It’s encouraging to see so many businesses sign up to the Active Travel Challenge. It shows they’re taking the active travel message to heart to help reduce congestion in our towns and cities and improve the health and wellbeing of their teams.”

Allstate Northern Ireland, Managing Director and Vice-President, Stephen McKeown stated, “I’m immensely proud of our employees’ enthusiastic participation in this year’s Active Travel Challenge. Their commitment not only highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle but also underscores Allstate’s dedication to sustainability and community wellbeing.”

Gail Cook, Marketing Director, Artemis Technologies said, “We are committed to pioneering solutions that contribute to a greener future. Encouraging our employees to embrace active travel aligns perfectly with our mission to reduce carbon emissions for a healthier, more sustainable planet. Initiatives like this not only benefit our environment but also enhance the wellbeing of our workforce, and we are delighted to be involved.”

David Algie, Director at Arup commented, “We are thrilled to participate once again in the Active Travel Challenge in 2024, which is an exciting year with the planned opening of Belfast Grand Central Station, which we have led the development of. This fantastic initiative encourages our team to walk, run, or cycle, promoting physical health and mental wellbeing. Additionally, it helps reduce our carbon footprint and traffic congestion, contributing to a better environment overall.”

AtkinsRéalis Regional Director, Jason Wylie said, “The Active Travel Initiative is a great way to shine a light on more sustainable ways to travel and promote the health benefits of an active lifestyle too. AtkinsRéalis is delighted to be taking part in this year’s initiative and our Belfast teams are looking forward to taking the opportunity to boost their wellbeing and reduce their own carbon footprint.”

Kieran Harding, Managing Director, Business in the Community said, “Responsible business is all about people, the planet and the places in which companies are located. We encourage as many people as possible to get involved in active travel and this campaign in June is a great way to kickstart a lifelong change in behaviour. The physical benefits of becoming more active in our daily journeys for work or pleasure can be significant for individuals, our environment and to connect with the communities where we live and work.”

Sustainable NI Director, Nichola Hughes enthused, “We love talking part in the Active Travel Challenge every year. It gets us thinking about how we commute to work and how we can fit more active travel into the working day to feel better and help the environment. We also enjoy tracking our progress, it makes it interesting.”

Professor Ian Montgomery, Dean of Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility, Ulster University said, “We are pleased to support the 2024 Active Travel Challenge. Our staff, students and visitors are encouraged to use public transport and other sustainable transport options across each of our campuses in Belfast, Coleraine and Derry~Londonderry. With the new York Street Station only a short walk away from our Belfast campus, we hope to see more staff and students choosing active travel as their main mode of transport, improving their own health and wellbeing while also decreasing their contribution to carbon emissions”.

Registration is free, open to individuals of all ages and workplaces of any size and registration can take place throughout June.  To register and learn more about the Active Travel Challenge, visit atc.getmeactive.org.uk

The Active Travel Challenge is a joint initiative between Sustrans, Translink, the Department for Infrastructure, Public Health Agency (PHA), Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and Belfast City Council aimed at promoting sustainable travel practices across residents in Northern Ireland.

[1] Sustrans Belfast Walking and Cycling Index 2023