During lockdown many of us took the opportunity once again to use our time outside to be active.
With public transport not recommended during the earlier stages of lockdown, and limited spaces available on school buses, many adults and children also took to active travel through walking or cycling in order to carry out their essential journeys.
Now that we are entering our Bailiwick Bubble once again in Stage 3, why slip back into old habits Restrictions may be lifting, but healthy active travel habits can continue! We all know being active comes with countless health benefits, both physically and mentally. With the ongoing pandemic placing restrictions on our everyday lives we have been reminded just how important both aspects are for our overall wellbeing.
Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health, commented: “Over the past year Guernsey has experienced two lockdowns due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Although with lockdown there were many challenges, it has been great to see so many of us making the most of our time spent outside to be active and get some much needed time to reflect on our thoughts and feelings we all experience differently. Keeping active even now that restrictions have lifted once again is so important and I would encourage everyone to keep up any positive changes they have made to their lifestyle.”
Not only is active travel beneficial for our own health & wellbeing, it is also beneficial for our environment by reducing congestion, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Deputy Lindsay De Sausmarez, President of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure, commented: “It has been great to see so many of us making the most of the easing of restrictions and the improving weather to get outside and enjoy our natural environment, and I’ve noticed so many more children riding to school.
“With the lifting of lockdown, we’re focused on keeping the roads safe for everyone who uses them so that people have got more choice over how they choose to travel. Infrastructure improvements are an important part of that as good infrastructure makes our roads safer and easier to use, which is why it’s a key focus of the Integrated Transport Strategy.
“There are so many health benefits to an active lifestyle and with more people walking and cycling there are real environmental benefits too. We’re keen to play our part in helping as many people as possible enjoy our beautiful island however they choose to travel round it”.
Alex Costen, Active Travel Officer at the Health Improvement Commission, is also keen that where people have made a real effort during lockdown to walk or cycle instead of drive, particularly on the school run, that they keep this momentum going:
“Research shows that keeping physically active can reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by as much as 35% and risk of early death by as much as 30%. There are many ways to achieve the recommended adult guidelines of 150 minutes physical activity a week and every little bit of activity counts, including short, local journeys on foot or by bike.
“And as well as the physical benefits, studies have shown that physical activity can be used to overcome, and even prevent depression and anxiety and the positive effects of activity on mood are immediate. What better reasons are there to embrace active travel wherever possible?”
Studies have shown that walking or cycling to school has a really positive effect on students’ concentration in the classroom for up to four hours after they arrive. But we understand that it can be a concern for some parents to let their children cycle on roads, particularly ones which do not have a designated cycle path. Guernsey Bikeability, run by Traffic & Highway Services, teaches Year 5 and Year 6 children how to ride safely using the National Cycle Training Standard.
Please contact your school for information on how to sign your children up to this training course. For more advice and information you can check out the Bikeability Parent’s Handbook or, for more information about Guernsey Bikeability specifically, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01481 223400 (Option 3).
Don’t forget, separate to any designated walking and cycling infrastructure, Guernsey also has a unique network of rural roads in 7 parishes where walking, cycling and horse riding is prioritised – our Ruettes Tranquilles. These lanes are a great place for young or learning bike riders to gain confidence and experience on two wheels and enjoy family outings. Signs at the entrance points to each of the routes advise drivers to keep their speed to less than 15mph and expect and respect people on foot, bike or horse.
There is an app – ‘Walking Cycling Guernsey’ – which is available to download for free on Android, Windows and Apple devices highlighting the Ruettes Tranquilles, along with the locations of cycle parks and toilets. Alternatively download a Ruettes Tranquilles leaflet here.
We can all benefit from keeping active as we travel out of Lockdown 2.0!