The Move More Plan, Active Travel and the need for Space for Cycling

Sheffield has a Move More Plan.  What is it?  It’s an initiative to get people to be more physically active in both everyday activities and for leisure and recreation.  CycleSheffield obviously supports this initiative but wants to ensure that the stress on everyday activities is as, if not more, important than the stress on leisure and recreation.  It is foolish to develop leisure centres if people only drive to them, far better and more beneficial would be a stress on active travel to work, schools, shops and leisure.  This will also help meet air quality targets and reduce traffic congestion. It’s also a fairness issue because getting to a leisure centre usually involves owning a car (33% of Sheffield dwellings have no car) and the cost of entry etc.  Its much more inclusive to stress active travel.

The Move More plan is embedded at the bottom of this post but first a bit of context.  Sheffield City Council (SCC) now has responsibility for public health; a move made by governments so that councils would put public health at the forefront of their policies rather than assume it was an NHS responsibility.  Resource was transferred from the NHS to the local authorities to help this change.  The SCC Director of Public Health (DoPH) in his 2013 report recommends, “The Council  should systematically prioritise initiatives to encourage Sheffield people to ‘Move More’, making being physically active the norm by building physical activity into their daily life.”

The DoPH report states that the opportunities for promoting physical activity for everyone could be, “ Planning applications for new developments should prioritise the need for all people to be physically active by building activity into their daily life. Local facilities should be accessible on foot, bicycle or other active modes of transport.  The Highways PFI can deliver wider social and public health benefits by ensuring pedestrians and cyclists are given the highest priority when developing and maintaining roads. Safer routes to school can be developed to promote active travel for children, young people and their families.”

The report contains some alarming stats, “…only 39% of men and 29% of women undertak(e) the recommended levels of physical activity” in Sheffield and “… 6-10% of all deaths from the major non-communicable diseases are attributed to physical inactivity. …. in Sheffield, only 54.6% of adults do at least 150 minutes of at least moderate intensity physical activity per week; and 30.4% of adults are physically inactive.”  Just under a third of all Sheffield adults do no moderate exercise at all but this is similar to the rest of the UK.

The DoPH notes, “Physical activity includes everyday activities such as walking and cycling, gardening, housework and active travel as well as active recreation and sport.  People should be encouraged to build physical activity into their daily lives making simple changes i.e. using stairs instead of taking lifts, taking active breaks and reducing the amount of time they spend being sedentary.

The report lists the prescribed public health outcomes that would be improved:

  • percentage of physically active adults

  • percentage of physically inactive adults

  • utilisation of green space for health/exercise reasons

  • percentage of children (age 4-5) overweight or obese

  • percentage of children (age 10-11) overweight or obese

  • excess weight in adults % overweight or obese

  • sickness absence rates

  • utilisation of green space for health/exercise reasons

  • rates of recorded diabetes

  • mortality attributable to air pollution

  • under 75 preventable mortality from cancers

  • under 75 preventable mortality from cardiovascular disease

It looks like we as a city can no longer ‘afford’ our current lifestyle and we do need Space for Cycling

The Move More Plan is available on this webpage – go down the page a bit and you can download it as a pdf

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