Walking and cycling

Short Text

This pathway sets out how people can be encouraged to walk or cycle for travel or recreation purposes.

Introduction

This pathway sets out how people can be encouraged and enabled to walk or cycle for travel or recreation purposes (for example, to get to work, school or the shops, or as a means of exploring parks or the countryside).
In the context of this pathway, walking and cycling includes the use of adapted cycles (such as trikes, tandems and handcycles), wheelchairs and similar mobility aids.
Walking and cycling are distinct activities which are likely to appeal to different segments of the population. The factors that help or restrict people from taking part will vary according to whether someone is walking or cycling for transport purposes, for recreation or to improve their health. Wherever the term 'walking and cycling' is used in this pathway, these variations should be kept in mind.
Action is required on many fronts by many different sectors – and a range of issues have to be addressed including environmental, social, financial and personal factors.
The pathway is for commissioners, managers and practitioners involved in physical activity promotion or who work in the environment, parks and leisure or transport planning sectors. They could be working in local authorities, the NHS and other organisations in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors.
In addition, it will be of interest to people who want to walk or cycle.

Source guidance

The NICE guidance that was used to create the pathway.
Walking and cycling. NICE public health guidance 41 (2012)

Quality standards

Quality statements

Effective interventions library

Successful effective interventions library details

Implementation

Commissioning

These resources include support for commissioners to plan for costs and savings of guidance implementation and meeting quality standards where they apply.
These resources will help to inform discussions with providers about the development of services and may include measurement and action planning tools.

Service improvement and audit

These resources provide help with planning ahead for NICE guidance, understanding where you are now, and conducting improvement initiatives.

Pathway information

Health benefits of walking and cycling

Increasing how much someone walks or cycles may increase their overall level of physical activity, leading to associated health benefits. These include:
  • Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  • Keeping the musculoskeletal system healthy.
  • Promoting mental wellbeing.
An increase in walking or cycling can also help:
  • Reduce car travel, leading to reductions in air pollution, carbon dioxide emissions and congestion.
  • Reduce road danger and noise.
  • Increase the number of people of all ages who are out on the streets, making public spaces seem more welcoming and providing opportunities for social interaction.
  • Provide an opportunity for everyone, including people with an impairment, to participate in and enjoy the outdoor environment.

Updates to this pathway

11 March 2014 Minor maintenance updates
27 January 2014 Minor maintenance updates
2 January 2014 Minor maintenance updates
11 June 2013 Minor maintenance updates
7 December 2012 Minor maintenance updates

Supporting information

Glossary

Generally, Dr Bike sessions are basic safety and maintenance checks provided free to the cyclist. They cover topics such as the brakes, steering, mechanical integrity and the overall condition of the bicycle. Minor adjustments are carried out free of charge. Sessions may also include security marking, visibility and cycling tips. They may be provided by local authorities, cycling groups or employers.
Handcycles are two or three-wheeled bikes powered by the arms rather than the legs. They come in a variety of styles which make them suitable for many people with disabilities.
'Local' may refer to an area defined by geography or for administrative purposes. It may comprise an area larger than that covered by a single local authority such as Greater London, Manchester or Merseyside. It may also refer to a housing estate, a small town or a village.
Local enterprise partnerships are led by local authorities and businesses. They provide the vision, knowledge and strategic leadership needed to drive sustainable private sector growth and job creation in their area.
Transport mode refers to the form of transport used (such as by car, lorry, bicycle, public transport or on foot).
Personalised travel planning aims to encourage people to change their travel habits by providing them with detailed information on possible alternatives. People running these schemes provide individuals (usually across a specified geographical area) with information on, and encouragement to use, alternatives to a car for the trips they make.
A portfolio holder is a local authority member with a specific responsibility delegated by the leader of the local authority.
These are competitions where participants log the number of miles they have cycled on their own or as part of a team. The aim is to cycle a predetermined number of miles over a certain time. A target could be, for example, to cycle the number of miles it would take to travel from Lands End to John O'Groats.

National strategy, policy and planning to support walking and cycling

National strategy, policy and planning to support walking and cycling

National strategy, policy and planning to support walking and cycling

Promoting physically active travel among children and young people

For details on how to encourage children and young people to walk and cycle and use other physically active modes of transport see 'Physically active travel' in national strategy, policy and commissioning in the physical activity pathway.

Reducing motor traffic speed

For details on how to reduce dangers on the road to encourage more walking and cycling see 'Involving the police in driver education initiatives and activities' in promoting and enforcing speed reductions in the unintentional injuries among under-15s pathway.

Local strategy, policy and planning to support walking and cycling

Local strategy, policy and planning to support walking and cycling

High-level support from the health sector

High-level support from the health sector

High-level support from the health sector

Who should take action?

Directors of public health.
Public health portfolio holders in local authorities.
Clinical commissioning groups.

What action should they take?

Ensure a senior member of the public health team is responsible for promoting walking and cycling. They should support coordinated, cross-sector working, for example, by ensuring programmes offered by different sectors complement rather than duplicate each other (see ensuring all relevant policies and plans consider walking and cycling in this pathway). The senior member should also ensure NICE's recommendations on physical activity and the environment are implemented (see physical activity and the environment in the physical activity pathway).
Ensure the joint strategic needs assessment, the joint health and wellbeing strategy and other local needs assessments and strategies take into account opportunities to increase walking and cycling. They should also consider how impediments to walking and cycling can be addressed.
Ensure walking and cycling are considered, alongside other interventions, when working to achieve specific health outcomes in relation to the local population (such as a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes, or the promotion of mental wellbeingDescriptions of the links between physical activity and health outcomes can be found in the Chief Medical Officers' report on physical activity, Start active, stay active.). These include outcomes identified through the joint strategic needs assessment process.
Ensure walking and cycling are included in chronic disease pathways.
Ensure all relevant sectors contribute resources and funding to encourage and support people to walk and cycle.
Where appropriate, ensure walking and cycling are treated as separate activities which may require different approaches.
Ensure walking and cycling projects are rigorously evaluated. This includes evaluating their impact on health inequalities.
For more on the role of the NHS in promoting walking and cycling see workplaces and NHS in this pathway. Also see ensuring health sector involvement in road safety and aligning local child road safety policies in the unintentional injuries among under-15s pathway.

Source guidance

Ensuring all relevant policies and plans consider walking and cycling

Ensuring all relevant policies and plans consider walking and cycling

Ensuring all relevant policies and plans consider walking and cycling

Who should take action?

Local authorities, in particular, portfolio holders, lead members and directors responsible for: adult and older people's services, children and young people's services, community safety, countryside management, disability, education, environment, health and wellbeing (including mental health), land use, planning and development control, parks and leisure, planning (including district planning), regeneration and economic development, social services and transport.
National parks authorities.
Integrated transport authorities.
Chief constables, police authorities and elected police commissioners.
Agencies with an interest in walking and cycling.
Agencies with an interest in health and wellbeing or that work with population groups such as older people or people with disabilities.

What action should they take?

Ensure local, high-level strategic policies and plans support and encourage both walking and cycling. This includes a commitment to invest sufficient resources to ensure more walking and cycling – and a recognition that this will benefit individuals and the wider community.
Relevant policies and plans include those on:
  • air quality
  • community safety
  • disability
  • education
  • environment (including sustainability and carbon reduction)
  • health and wellbeing
  • housing
  • land use, planning and development control
  • physical activity
  • regeneration and economic development
  • transport.
Ensure the walking and cycling aspects of these plans are developed in conjunction with relevant voluntary and community organisations.
Ensure strategies to promote walking and cycling address factors which influence activity at various levels – from policy down to the individual. This includes ensuring NICE's recommendations on physical activity and the environment are implemented (see physical activity and the environment in the physical activity pathway).
Assess the impact of relevant policies and decisions on people's ability to walk and cycle. Where necessary, amend them to ensure support for walking and cycling.
Ensure plans relevant to walking and cycling are implemented and evaluatedFurther advice on evaluation of physical activity can be found in the National Obesity Observatory guide to evaluation..

Source guidance

Developing cross-sector walking and cycling programmes

Developing cross-sector walking and cycling programmes

Developing cross-sector walking and cycling programmes

Who should take action?

Local authority directors and portfolio holders for: countryside management, environment (including sustainability), leisure services, parks, public health, regeneration and economic development and transport.
Police traffic officers and neighbourhood policing teams.

What action should they take?

Develop coordinated, cross-sector programmes to promote walking and cycling for recreation as well as for transport purposes, based on a long-term vision of what is achievable and current best practice. Ensure the needs of all sections of the population are addressed. Incorporate public health goals to increase the prevalence of people cycling and walking, as well as the distance covered by those who already walk and cycle regularly
Aim to shift attention away from focusing on individual risk factors and isolated, small-scale interventions and ensure programmes comprise an integrated package of measures, implemented by all relevant sectors and stakeholders. Where appropriate, they should link to existing national and local walking and cycling initiatives, and incorporate actions in specific settings, such as workplace or schools (see workplaces and schools in this pathway).
Ensure walking and cycling programmes form a core part of local transport investment planning, on a continuing basis. In line with the Department for Transport's Manual for streets and the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation's Manual for streets 2 - wider application of the principles, pedestrians and cyclists should be considered before other user groups in the design process – this helps ensure that they are not provided for as an afterthought.

Source guidance

Walking and cycling networks and infrastructure

Walking and cycling networks and infrastructure

Walking and cycling networks and infrastructure

Road design

Roads, including pavements, can be designed to encourage people to walk or cycle. For details of how this can be achieved see road design in the physical activity pathway.

Workplace links to walking and cycling networks

People can be encouraged to walk and cycle to work and during the working day, if there are enough safe networks and links in place. For details see buildings – walking and cycling links in the physical activity pathway.

Walking and cycling programmes

View the 'Walking and cycling programmes' path

Preventing unintentional injuries on the road among pedestrians and cyclists

Preventing unintentional injuries on the road among pedestrians and cyclists

Preventing unintentional injuries on the road among pedestrians and cyclists

Addressing the dangers people face on our roads is a key aspect of activities to encourage people to walk and cycle.
Road safety partnerships and strategies can help, by addressing issues such as motor traffic speed and by encouraging the introduction of a range of engineering measures to make roads safer for both pedestrians and cyclists. For details see below.

Developing road safety partnerships and strategies

For details go to: managing road safety partnerships and carrying out local child road safety reviews in the unintentional injuries among under-15s pathway.

Addressing motor traffic speed

For details go to: promoting and enforcing speed reductions and needs assessment and planning in the unintentional injuries among under-15s pathway.

Introducing engineering measures

For details go to: implementing engineering measures in the unintentional injuries among under-15s pathway and road design in the physical activity pathway.

Paths in this pathway

Pathway created: November 2012 Last updated: March 2014

Copyright © 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All Rights Reserved.

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