Review decision date: March 2016

Review decision: No update required. Published guidance still current. 

Next review: To be scheduled

This guideline sets out how people can be encouraged to increase the amount they walk or cycle for travel or recreation purposes. This will help meet public health and other goals (for instance, to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions).

Recommendations 6 and 7 in this guideline update and replace recommendation 6 in four commonly used methods to increase physical activity (2006) NICE guideline PH2.

The guideline is for commissioners, managers and practitioners involved in physical activity promotion or who work in the environment, parks and leisure or transport planning sectors. They could be working in local authorities, the NHS and other organisations in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors.

In addition, it will be of interest to people who promote walking and cycling in an unpaid capacity and other members of the public.

In the context of this guideline, walking and cycling includes the use of adapted cycles (such as trikes, tandems and handcycles), wheelchairs and similar mobility aids.

Encouraging and enabling people to walk or cycle requires action on many fronts – and by many different sectors. A range of issues have to be addressed, including environmental, social, financial and personal factors.

The recommendations cover:

  • local programmes
  • policy and planning
  • schools, workplaces and the NHS.

In addition to the recommendations made in this (and related) NICE guidance, other measures are needed to tackle the wider influences on walking or cycling. This includes measures to reduce road dangers and to reallocate road space to create a more supportive environment.

This guideline was previously called walking and cycling: local measures to promote walking and cycling as forms of travel or recreation.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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