A campaign is getting underway to encourage more people to walk, cycle and use public transport.
Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across Scotland – including Queensferry Ambition – are organising special events to support European Mobility Week, which gets formally underway on September 16.
The events have been funded by Business Improvement Districts Scotland with grant funding from Transport Scotland. South Queensferry’s campaign has also been supported by the City of Edinburgh Council.
Maggie Mitchell from Queensferry Ambition says: “The message is that making smarter travel choices helps local economies. It also makes us healthier. Simple lifestyle changes – like leaving the car and walking, cycling or taking the bus – can make a big difference. So what’s stopping us?”
She continued: “Figures supplied by the EU show an increase in trading where walking and cycling are the norm – by up to 40 per cent.
“There are other benefits, too. Adults who walk and cycle tend to be more productive at work, take fewer sick days and spend less time, on average, seeing their GP. And children who walk or cycle to school perform better in class.
“In Queensferry, we’re doing some survey work to identify barriers to people being more active. We’re also trying to literally get folks on their bikes by setting up a stall on September 17 at Scotmid, just off the town centre, offering free bike MOTs and a chance to try electric bikes.”
Bike charity Sustrans works with local authorities to improve local cycle paths, including the John Muir Way, which runs right across the central belt.
The charity says: “Getting out walking or cycling burns calories, gets your heart pumping and works your legs and abs. It can also lift your mood, put a smile on your face and improve your general health and wellbeing.”
The Scottish Government has produced guidelines encouraging adults to do 30 minutes of moderate activity five or more days a week. Sadly a survey in 2012 found that only 45 per cent of men and 33 per cent of women were hitting the target.
Others think we should be doing even more.
Fitbit, which produces pedometers to measure walking and activity levels, suggests people should cover 10,000 steps a day – the equivalent to walking five miles. Most people can cover this distance (walking at a brisk pace) in under an hour and a half.
But many would say that any increased activity is a step in the right direction.
John Pryde, who helps run a fit camp in South Queensferry, says: “I often recommend starting small – getting off the bus two stops earlier and doing a little bit more exercise. Try something. If you’re moving more than you did before, you’ll be benefitting.”
His advice is echoed by Fiona Grant, a partner in JW Physiotherapy in South Queensferry, said: “Try to incorporate small movements within your day. A short walk at lunchtime, or getting off the bus sooner, or getting out for a walk in the evening. It’s important to tailor things to individuals because everyone is different.”
Maggie Mitchell continued: “Many of us have taken to shopping online, but there’s nothing better than going for a walk around the shops. It gives you some exercise, you can meet some lovely people, have a coffee – and perhaps bag a bargain at the same time.
“I hope people will support the campaign and think about their transport habits.
“Cutting down car use also cuts down emissions and the resulting pollution, and that has to be good for everyone too.”
- Adrian Mahoney, The PR Store, tel. 07967 150560 or 01506 823714
- Maggie Mitchell, Queensferry Ambition, tel. 0131 331 3203; mobile: 07952 970325