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Understanding Active Travel promotion: PASTA project kick-off meeting

26 November 2013

New FP7 research project "PASTA-Physical Activity Through Sustainable Transport Approaches" kicked-off on 20-21 November in Vienna. PASTA focuses on the promotion and factors enabling active travel (i.e. walking and cycling including the combination with public transport use) in urban environments as an innovative approach to integrate physical activity into individuals’ everyday lives.

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Well, in addition to enjoying a juicy apple, experts and the WHO say that 30 minutes of physical activity or exercise can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. This moderate activity can easily be part of our daily life, for examples by replacing car trips with walking to school or to work. We like to call it "active travel".

In contrast to sports or exercise, active travel requires less time and motivation, since active travel provides both convenience as a mode of transport, and a healthy lifestyle. As such it has potential to reach parts of the population which have not been receptive to the appeals and benefits of sports and exercise.

How to integrate physical activity into people's daily life? What are the best interventions to promote physical activity? What is the ideal build environment to encourage people walking and cycling more? PASTA aims to answer these fundamental questions.

The project consortium comprises leading experts in various fields: health, physical activity, transport modeling, safety, air quality, but also european networking and communication. They will review the literature on active travel and identify innovative interventions and systematic initiatives to promote active travel as well as traffic safety interventions.

A longitudinal study will be conducted in 7 cities case studies (Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Oerebro, Rome, Vienna, Zuerich) to evaluate the ongoing active travel initiatives combined with traffic safety interventions to better understand correlates of active travel and their effects on overall physical activity, injury risk and exposure to air pollution.

An improved user-friendly tool for more comprehensive health impact assessment (HIA) of active travel will be developed. The tool will be applied to active travel behavior observed in the case study cities and allow the assessment of health and economic impacts of measures.

To ensure full usability and transferability of the project findings to cities and regions, Polis will draft a compendium of good practices of active travel promotion aimed at decision makers, city and transport planners, implementing authorities, businesses, civil society organizations and end users.

PASTA is a 4-year collaborative project started on 1/11/2013 and running until 31/10/2017. The project is funded under the FP7-Health call 2013.

For more information, please visit http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/110446_en.html or contact FBoschetti@polisnetwork.eu.