Active Travel SPD

Ended on the 4 October 2023
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2. The Active Travel SPD

The previous Colchester Cycling Delivery Strategy SPD was adopted in 2012. Since then, it is apparent that other modes of wheeling travel would benefit from safe and sufficient routes. These, in addition to walking and cycling, are collectively known as modes of active travel. Active travel can also be used to access other forms of sustainable modes of transport such as public transport and car clubs.

Active Travel

refers to modes of travel that involve a level of physical activity; including walking, wheeling (trips made by wheelchairs [self-propelled or powered], mobility scooters, pushchairs and adapted bicycles) and cycling (including electric bikes, e-cargo bikes and other bicycle schemes).

New policies, strategies and guidance have also been published and adopted by national Government and Essex County Council since the Colchester Cycling Delivery Strategy was adopted by the Council. Revised guidance on delivering active travel infrastructure has been produced. National and local guidance recognises that active travel are the least carbon-intensive ways to travel.

The Active Travel SPD will supersede the Cycling Delivery Strategy SPD, which will ensure that the SPD is up to date and in line with the most recent policy and guidance. The Active Travel SPD is also being prepared to help everyone to understand the important role of active travel within the city of Colchester. This will enable a cohesive, comprehensive and legible active travel infrastructure network to be delivered.

In addition to new policy and guidance updates, there are 3 key themes that support and highlight the need for active travel infrastructure. These are travel patterns and habits, health and responding to the climate emergency. These are set out below.


The Colchester Borough Travel to Work Patterns (2015) was produced, based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2011 Census data and shows where and how people travel to work by either rural or urban workplace zones. The document highlighted that the city at that time was quite self-contained with 69% of employees that live in Colchester travel to work in Colchester by either a car or a van.

The 2021 Office for National Statistics (ONS) census data, which was still in the pandemic recovery phase, highlights that 47% of employees travel by either car or a van with only 11% travelling by active modes (2.5% by bicycle and 8.7% on foot).

The Colchester Future Transport Strategy results (July 2022), show that there is significant car use within the city over short distances which could be made by alternative modes to help relieve pressure and congestion on the growing road network. It demonstrates why active travel has so much potential opportunity in the city and why it is important to encourage more people to walk, wheel or cycle, whether it be for trips to work, school, college, shopping or leisure.

The future transport strategy states about 20% of us travel 2km or less to work by car and 40% travel 5km or less. Edge of town residential areas are continuing to produce the highest car use for commuting.


In 2019, Colchester City Council declared a climate emergency. Promoting active travel not only helps with people's health and wellbeing but it is also environmentally friendly. If every household changed just one short car journey per week, to travel via an active mode, it would help save multiple thousands of tonnes of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and CO2 emissions helping to tackle climate change and improve air quality throughout the city.

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan (2021) and the Net Zero Strategy (2021) nationally sets milestones for journeys in towns and cities of 50% journeys walked or cycled by 2030 and every place in the UK will have its own net zero emission transport network before 2050.

About 60% of car trips are less than 3km (2miles), with 45% of car trips to work under 1.5km (1mile); this is a 15-20 minute walking distance. About 36% of trips are under 5km (3miles) and 59% under 10km (6miles) which suggest that sustainable & active modes of travel must be main pillars of the forward strategy in order to tackle/improve these three agendas. (National Travel Survey 2021)


There is now significant evidence which proves the direct links and significant benefits of physical activity for health, both physically and mentally. It can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. Even a minimum amount of physical activity is better than doing nothing; and using modes of active travel can contribute towards the Chief Medical Officers' recommended 150 minutes of physical activity for adults each week, which provides significant benefits for health and wellbeing. By becoming more active throughout the day people can easily achieve these recommended activity levels.

Unfortunately, the UK population is around 20% less active now than in the 1960s and if the current trajectory continues, it will be 35% less active by 2030. Physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for non-communicable disease mortality (cardiovascular diseases [heart attacks and stroke], chronic respiratory diseases [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD and asthma] and cancers). People who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Physical inactivity is associated with 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and is estimated to cost the UK in excess of £10 billion annually (including £1 billion to the NHS alone) (Health Matters 2016).

People with disabilities or long-term health conditions are twice as likely not to be active enough for good health and one in four people would be more active if advised by a healthcare professional. Quality inclusive active travel infrastructure could remove any potential barriers for the remaining three in four people to be more physically active, which is a unique opportunity to increase physical activity for all.

icon of person walking

icon of person running

icon of person cycling

icon of person wheeling


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