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Research highlights the public health benefits of new walking and cycling routes

13 May 2016

A new report released by Sustrans sets some research findings on the public health and physical activity impacts of walking and cycling routes alongside some of the practical delivery examples and learning from the Connect2 programme.

Fit for Life, a new report by Sustrans, presents independent research, by leading experts, into the public health benefits of new walking and cycling routes. Sustrans, supported by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, completed many new high quality walking and cycling routes between 2009 and 2013.

This work, which was carried out through working closely with a range of partners, extended the National Cycle Network into more than 80 communities across the UK. It provided safe crossings of barriers such as busy roads, rivers and railways, making it easier for people to access safe, convenient traffic free cycling and walking routes.

The project created new bridges and crossings that overcame busy roads, rivers and railways, making it easier for millions of people to walk and cycle for everyday journeys to shops, work, schools, friends and family.

However few studies have shown how environmental changes like this lead to behaviour change in relation to physical activity. The wider impact on public health has therefore been difficult to discern.

The report picks out the research headlines relating to physical activity and highlights some of the most significant findings of the papers in respect of three key areas.

  • Good planning and design of walking routes has an impact on the increase in physical activity
  • Understanding the transition from recreational to functional trips
  • The impact on the community

The full report can be found here.

An accompanying blog is at

For more  information, please contact Dr Andy CopeDirector, Research and Monitoring Unit, Sustrans.

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