Campaigners drive home green message with annual Active Travel Challenge

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Whether it’s walking, cycling, or using public transport, this Earth Day people across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to sign up to the 2024 Active Travel Challenge and leave their car at home.

Last year, as well as saving money and helping improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing by choosing active journeys, more than 9,000kg of CO2 was saved thanks to those who took part in the challenge, demonstrating the real impact sustainable travel can make in improving air quality and the local environment.

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.

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The challenge is free to sign up to and takes place for the entire month of June. It is open to individuals of all ages and organisations of any size, to encourage them to switch their usual routine and try walking, cycling, or taking public transport for a more active and greener way to travel.

Partners pictured at the launch of this year's Active Travel ChallengePartners pictured at the launch of this year's Active Travel Challenge
Partners pictured at the launch of this year's Active Travel Challenge

Once registered, participants simply log their ‘active travel’ journeys throughout June on the online platform for a chance to win a range of prizes, including vouchers, travel tickets, gym passes and rewards with national and regional retailers. From the daily commute to work or school, to a trip to the local shop, the Active Travel Challenge encourages people to leave the car at home or simply add some active travel into their journey by using their local park and ride, in a bid to be more sustainable, save money and help improve their physical and mental health.

Each journey logged will record Co2 savings, helping participants see the effect their active travel is making. The online platform will also show how much they have saved from each journey. Participants can register as an individual and also as part of a team, enabling healthy competition among colleagues, family or friends.

Carbon footprint

Claire Pollock, Head of Sustrans Northern Ireland said: “The Active Travel Challenge is back for another amazing year. I would encourage everyone to have a go and build active travel into their daily routines as a really simple way to make a positive contribution towards reducing their carbon footprint. If you’re thinking about cycling but haven’t been on a bike in years, there’s lots of helpful advice online to get you started and you’ll soon be reaping the physical, mental and economic benefits.”

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Ian Campbell, Director of Service Operations at Translink, added: “The Active Travel Challenge is a great way to make small changes which make a big difference in creating a more sustainable lifestyle. Taking the bus or train, utilising park and ride facilities or using bike storage at our stations, are all practical ways to introduce more active travel and reduce the stress and cost of the daily commute, whilst also having a positive impact on the environment.”

Aidan Dawson, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency, said: “The PHA would encourage everyone across Northern Ireland to take part in the Active Travel Challenge this June, it is a fun and engaging way to incorporate physical activity into our daily routines.

"Being physically active can help improve our physical and mental health and wellbeing and quality of life. As little as 30 minutes of moderate level physical activity most days of the week is shown to help reduce anxiety, help maintain a healthy weight and help reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, while also improving the quality of your sleep. By becoming more active, you are also playing your part in protecting our environment reducing your carbon footprint with benefits for all of society.”


Colin Hutchinson, Director at Department for Infrastructure responsible for active travel, added: “I would encourage everyone who can to take part in this great initiative, consider including active travel options into your daily routine and where possible leave the car at home. The Active Travel Challenge allows us to make a difference to ourselves and to the environment around us by choosing more sustainable options. I am pleased that the department is working in partnership with other agencies to promote this initiative.”

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BHSCT Clare McMahon, Co-Director PCSS said: “Not only will building active travel into your commute help your physical and emotional wellbeing but you may also find that you save some money as the cost of fuel and parking increases, I would encourage everyone to try and build it into their daily life’s as much as possible and use the Active Travel Challenge an ideal opportunity to start improving both physical and mental health.”

Damien Martin, Strategic Director of Place and Economy at Belfast City Council, added: “The Active Travel Challenge is a great way to help motivate people to walk, cycle or use public transport as an alternative to car travel. Once again, we will be encouraging our employees to get involved as a way to reduce their carbon footprint, while simultaneously incorporating more exercise into their daily routine. We also continue to work with city partners to support active travel choices for residents and visitors through schemes including Belfast Bikes, the Active Travel Hub in Cathedral Gardens, and free, secure public cycle parking at the Bike Yard in CastleCourt.”

To find out more and get involved in this year’s Active Travel Challenge go to or email [email protected]. Keep up to date with all the latest ATC action on social media using #GetMeActiveNI