Sunday, 12 September 2021

Moving towards healthier travel habits

 Guest post by Camille Bon


 
The EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK will celebrate its 20th edition this year. Celebrating on the week starting 16th September and ending on the 22nd of September, which is World Car Free Day, this EU wide campaign seeks to promote behavioural change in favour of active mobility, public transport and other clean, intelligent transport solutions.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has fostered an interest in more sustainable modes of transport and brought a new perspective on our public space. Last year gave us a momentary relief from busy traffic, allowing people to enjoy streets and public spaces. Since then, not a week goes by without a new article or survey being published on this topic. First was the announcement of the pioneering Slow Streets initiative by the Local Councils Association, which aims to offer an opportunity to experience our neighbourhoods in a new way. Their goal is to make streets more people-friendly by limiting through-traffic in residential streets. Last April, Hamrun's mayor, Christian Sammut, floated the idea of making the town's main street pedestrianised. His proposal was positively welcomed by the public. Then, in June, Zejtun council announced it will be among the first local councils to introduce car-free zones in their locality.


When we know that the average car commuting journey is only 5.5km and 20 minutes long, there is great potential to encourage walking, cycling and other micro-mobility solutions as faster and cleaner alternative means of transport. According to Transport Malta, many destinations are only a 10-minute walk away from the town centre. The more we create safe and aesthetically pleasing streets, the more we will encourage people to use alternative modes of transport to move from A to B. Furthermore, it is being increasingly recognised that good quality public spaces are important for people’s wellbeing and health, both mental and physical. Pascal Smet, Secretary of State for the Brussels-Capital Region considers public space as the living room of a city: “Just like in your house, the living room is the most important room in the house”.


The question now is how to encourage walking, cycling, and other forms of physical activity in our urban areas? How can we reduce the impact of pollution and advocate for more greenery and open public spaces, promoting physical exercise, opportunity for social interaction and better mental health and well-being?



In line with this year’s theme for the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2021, Project Aegle Foundation (PAF), on behalf of the EIT Urban Mobility RIS hub Malta, is organising an online seminar themed “Safe and Healthy with Sustainable Mobility in Malta” in collaboration with Transport Malta on September 16th, from 15:30-18:00 (via Zoom and Facebook Live). Addressing policy makers, government representatives, educators and school staff, architects and urban planners, and students and professionals in the health and transport sectors, and the general public, the event includes 3 panel discussions with experts and practitioners in the field, on the following topics:
 
        How is transport impacting health in Malta?
        As a place of work or education, what can you do to promote healthier travel habits?
        What can cities do to promote active mobility to boost residents’ physical and mental health?
 
The momentum towards sustainable mobility is growing and the time to act is now! 
Learn how to encourage healthier travel habits during our online seminar here or visit PAF website or PAF on Facebook.
Camille Bon is Lead Project Manager at Project Aegle Foundation (PAF)