A LOCAL community group has held off strong competition to claim top spot at the Active Travel Challenge Awards.
Strabane Community Project emerged victorious from the month-long challenge, delivered in partnership by Sustrans, the Public Health Agency, Translink, and the Department for Infrastructure, which encouraged workplaces to swap the car for more active and sustainable modes of transport.
They were joint winners in the smallest workplace category (3-20 people), with 100 per cent staff participation - logging 520 active and sustainable journeys over 3,850 miles in the month of June.
These efforts represented a travel cost savings of over £500 for employees, over 150,000 calories burned, and a CO2 savings of over 500kg.
The Active Travel Challenge is just one part of a wider PHA-funded project called ‘Leading the Way with Active Travel’, that is engaging with staff in some of Northern Ireland’s largest workplaces to encourage and facilitate active travel on foot, by bike, or by public transport.
Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cara Hunter, presented the Strabane group with their award and commended them for making a positive difference to the environment.
“I want to congratulate the Strabane Community Project for taking the top prize in the Active Travel Challenge Awards for June,” she said.
“Making small changes in how we travel to and from work can have a huge impact on the environment, and the team at the Strabane Community Project have led the way in showing the positive impact that those changes can have.
“With the public advised to partake in at least 150 minutes of active exercise each week, it’s also a great way to meet your health and fitness targets, as well as helping the environment.
“To come out on top in a national competition, with 100% staff participation, shows their dedication to this cause, and they are deserved winners of the Active Travel Challenge.”
Almost 33,000 journeys on public transport, foot and bike were made by commuters as part of a month-long challenge across Northern Ireland to beat the traffic and get healthier, including the team at the Strabane Community Project.
Northwest Active Travel Officer for Sustrans NI, Krysten Maier, praised the organisation for setting a great example for others.
“It is amazing to see companies in the North West embracing active travel for their commute. Given the serious amount of congestion we experience across Northern Ireland, it is so important to do all we can to encourage people to travel more sustainably,” she said.
“Strabane Community Project are to be commended for this tremendous effort that not only benefits their staff in terms of health and wellbeing, but sets a great example for how large an impact embracing sustainable travel habits can have on the environment and local communities.”
Lynda Hurley, head of Promotion and Outreach Branch at the Department for Infrastructure, encouraged more people to follow in the footsteps of the Strabane Community Project.
“The draft Programme for Government sets out a clear ambition to transform how we travel by increasing the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport,” she said.
“We know that if more people consider making sustainable travel choices it will help to reduce congestion on our roads, protect the environment and, importantly, lead to improved physical and mental well-being.
“The department welcomes the increased uptake for the Active Travel Challenge this year and congratulates all those who took part. We will continue to work collaboratively with others to increase the number of people using sustainable methods of travel.”