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Active travel and health equity: towards an intersectional approach
  1. Rachel Aldred1,
  2. Robin Mazumder2
  1. 1 University of Westminster, London, UK
  2. 2 TU Berlin University, Berlin, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rachel Aldred, University of Westminster, London, UK; r.aldred{at}

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Population health, physical activity and active travel

Active travel covers walking, cycling and for instance, push-scooting, skateboarding, manual wheelchair use, electrically assisted bikes and handcycles. Increased active travel is one of the most effective ways of increasing population physical activity, as it can form part of daily life, whereas leisure time physical activity may be more expensive and/or time-consuming. Various factors including housing density, mixed-use urban design, financial incentives, infrastructure and road environment shape usage. As active travel is often relatively low cost and potentially accessible to much of the population, uptake can help improve equity in health and in access to resources obtained through mobility.1

How can active travel be increased?

Evidence from transport planning says we need ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ to increase active travel.2 Carrots improve active travel, such as by building wide, physically protected cycle tracks or providing financial incentives for using active modes. Sticks, like restricting car access or charging for car parking, make driving less convenient or more expensive.

Carrots and sticks go together. Where sticks entail financial charges or penalties, they often help fund carrots. Moreover, congested cities can rarely build new infrastructure for active travel (a carrot) without taking away car space (a stick). However, sticks …

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  • Contributors The article was devised and co-written by the authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.