Suffolk Walks: Ipswich’s Active Travel Falls
Residents of Ipswich still walk and cycle less than those living in more rural areas of the county, with activity rates declining during the pandemic.
Most parts of the county were slightly above average for active travel, compared to the rest of England, but Ipswich was lagging behind last year.
Sport England’s annual Active Lives Survey, published by the Department for Transport, shows that only 71% walked at least once a month for some reason between November 2019 and November 2020.
Results are down from 76% a year earlier, which is the lowest figure since comparable records began in 2015-16.
The proportion of people who walked for leisure – for recreation, health, competition or training – once a month rose from 56% to 62%.
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But the same figure for walking – like commuting to work, visiting a friend, or going to the supermarket – has fallen dramatically, from 52% to 33%.
In Ipswich, 14% cycled at least once every four weeks, up from 18% the year before.
Across England, the proportion of people who took a monthly walk for some reason fell from 80% to 75% during this period – the lowest on record. In Suffolk, this went from 80% to 77%.
Active Suffolk director Gareth Davies hopes to bridge the gaps between Ipswich and the county as a whole and has started an active welfare service in the area.
Mr Davies added: ‘We hope to see a positive increase in physical activity levels, however, it is extremely encouraging to note that as we begin to recover from the impacts of Covid, Suffolk is taking the lead in resuming the ‘exercise, with the majority of local authorities exceeding the national average for those who walk or cycle in the past 28 days.
“With an unequivocal link between improving physical fitness and improving mental and physical health and well-being, we encourage our communities to continue to return to the exercise they love, or to seek certain of the many physical activity opportunities in Suffolk to try something new. “
Lisa O’Keefe, director of insight at Sport England, said the reduction “reflects the unprecedented pandemic disruption of that time.”
She added: “Anxiety about going out and catching or spreading the virus, financial fears, more responsibilities at home, and lack of access to private outdoor space have all contributed.”