Why choose active travel?

Active travel brings many obvious benefits to the environment – the Committee on Climate Change recognised that is an essential element of the transition to a net-zero carbon economy, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

It also generates health, economic, and social benefits, can contribute to improved wellbeing and help to prevent or manage a range of chronic health conditions. It can also contribute to economic performance by reducing congestion. Active travel is, therefore, a vital component of the future transport solution.

In the local context, Whitby has an environment dominated by motor vehicles, and so for every person able to choose active travel for just a few of their journeys the town would experience a positive change. Don’t forget, active travel can be for leisure and fitness, but it can also be as a way of getting about.

Please read more in this publication by Public Health England.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE guidelines PH41, 2012) gives details and guidance on the 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.

Several recommendations were given including that walking and cycling be considered alongside other interventions when working to achieve specific health outcomes in relation to local population (such as reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes or the proportion of mental wellbeing). It also recommends actions for local authorities, national park authorities, local enterprise partnerships and other agencies ‘ensure high strategic plans and policies support and encourage both walking and cycling’ including a ‘commitment to invest sufficient resources to ensure more walking and cycling’.

What qualifies as active travel?

Active travel is the process of moving between places by using your own power (or at least some of your own power) or very lower energy forms of transport. In terms of the traditional modes of transport : walking, wheeling (wheelchair, mobility scooter), cycling (manual or e-bike), scooting (manual) or horse riding. Note that we include mobility vehicles – they can legally travel anywhere a pedestrian can under Section 20 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.

We would not include e-scooters in this (or e-bikes that have had “pedal assist” disabled) – apart from being illegal, these are not apporting anything to the health of the user.

How to get started?

If you are keen on switching to active travel, here are some tips to help you get going:

  • Start small. You don’t have to ditch the car completely. Try swapping one trip per week or per day for cycling, e-biking or walking. You can gradually do it more often and longer as you get more comfy and confident.
  • Plan ahead. Check the weather forecast, plan your route and pack your stuff. You might want to get some gear like a helmet, lights, lock and waterproof clothing. Think where you can lock up your bike if cycling (and always register your bike on sites like Immobilise or BikeRegister). You can also use apps or websites (or even our own paths page) to find the best routes, bike lanes and bike parking places in your area.
  • Be safe. Follow the traffic rules, signal what you’re doing, consider wearing bright clothing and use lights at night. Be aware of what’s going on around you and other road users. If you are new to cycling or e-biking, you might want to join a group ride to gain confidence.
  • Have fun. Enjoy the fresh air, the scenery and the exercise. Invite your mates or family to join you or make new friends along the way. Share your stories with others. There are some groups that do organised activities, so you could get involved in one of those.

Active travel is a win-win solution for both you and the planet. By cycling, e-biking or walking instead of driving or taking public transport, you can cut your carbon emissions, improve your health and well-being, save money and have fun!

Services for getting active

For those people using bikes, having access to a reliable retailer to provide for your needs is very useful – whether it is to purchase a bike, or to keep it running. We don’t endorse any of these retailers, simply providing visibility of some of the local retailers available should you need services; if there are others that we haven’t included please let us know. We have listed them in approximate order of distance from Whitby.

Retailer NameServicesAddressWebsiteSocial Media
RS Bicycle MechanicBike servicingSleightsFacebook
TrailwaysBike sales (appointment only)The Old Railway Station, Hawsker, YO22 4LBWebsite
AI SuspensionMountain bike suspension servicingStation Works, The Loco Shed, Unit B, Lealholm YO21 2AGWebsite
Yorkshire Cycle HubBike sales, servicingFryup Gill Farm, Great Fryup Dale YO21 2AP WebsiteFacebook
Big Bear BikesBike sales, servicingCo-Op Building, 2 Southgate, Pickering YO18 8BLWebsiteFacebook
Bike SceneBike sales, servicingThe Old Ambulance Station, Park Lane, Guisborough TS14 6NT Website
Richardsons CyclesBike sales, servicing38-40 Castle Road, Scarborough YO11 1XEWebsiteFacebook
Yorkshire Coast CyclesBike servicing15 Thornville Avenue, Scarborough YO126PNWebsite
BikeIt Cycle WarehouseBike servicingVictoria Courtyard, 131 Victoria Road, Scarborough YO11 1SPWebsite
Chasing TrailsBike servicing26 Phoenix Drive, Scarborough YO12 4AZWebsite
HalfordsBike sales, servicingSeamer Road, Scarborough YO12 4DHWebsite
PeddlersBike sales, servicing16 York Road, Redcar TS10 5AAWebsiteFacebook
Route 1Bike sales, servicing3 Queen Street, Redcar TS10 1DYFacebook

Current Activity Levels

Activity levels in the Whitby and District area are not as high as they could be. Infrastructure plays a significant part in this. The below maps show walking and cycling levels from the Active Lives Survey of 2020. Walking levels are average for the county, and indeed country. Cycling levels, on the other hand, are below average, largely due to the presence of very little infrastructure.

Please note also the road noise map for Whitby (DEFRA/DfT, 2017, 24hr averaged road noise), highlighting the primary arterial roads and the impact of road traffic on the lives of residents in those areas. Note that this is also indicatory of the levels of road particulates. Noise and particulates have direct and indirect linkage to physical and mental health of people in those areas. This is something that increased active travel (and reduced vehicular travel) can make a massive impact on.

DfT Road Noise Map for Whitby
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