Enabling active travel also has a more intangible benefit, but one that is the most important of all: increasing happiness.

  • Strong, cohesive communities: recent studies have confirmed that people living on busy streets have fewer connections with their neighbours than those on quiet ones, while others have found that people who walk through poorer neighbourhoods form less negative perceptions than those who drive through them.
  • Happy kids: there is no shortage of evidence that children who are physically active suffer from less stress and have improved self-esteem – while those who walk to school have stronger links with their local communities and wider social networks than those who are driven. It’s no coincidence that Dutch children regularly top the rankings for well-being and general satisfaction in life.
  • Improved mental well-being: NICE cites research that found those who walked or cycled to work experienced better mental well-being in many areas, while people who live in areas where there are pleasant places to walk have better mental as well as physical health.

Download our briefing note for a digest of some of the best evidence for investment in active travel – and how best to bring it about.