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Sir Chris Whitty appointed to Active Travel England Advisory Panel

"We all want to see more people incorporating active travel into their day as a way to keep mentally and physically fit"...

England's Chief Medical Officer Sir Chris Whitty — whose high-profile role and appearances at news conferences during the Covid pandemic made him a household name in the UK — has been appointed to a new team advising Active Travel England.

West Midlands' Mayor Andy Street, Chair of the Office of Rail and Road Declan Collier and Arup's Global Transport Leader Isabel Dedring have also been appointed to the advisory panel.

"Incredible experts"

Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman welcomed the appointments to the new panel, saying Active Travel England had the support of four "incredible experts".

"Active travel is a key part of achieving so many of government's top priorities, so we want to link up with those agendas from the very start," Boardman said.

Chris Boardman (copyright Allan McKenzie,

"Providing low-cost, healthy travel options to get to schools, shops, and workplaces will revitalise high streets across the country and help us decarbonize at the same time."

"Exercise improves health"

Whitty served as the government's Chief Scientific Adviser from 2017 to 2018 and has long since advocated cycling and active travel as a means of improving the nation's health.

"Exercise improves health, and Active Travel England's mission is shared by the health service," he said following his latest appointment.

"We all want to see more people incorporating active travel into their day as a way to keep mentally and physically fit."

Back in March, at the annual conference of the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health, Forbes' Carlton Reid reports Whitty told attendees it is "clearly incorrect" for anyone to suggest cycling does not work in the UK.

"If you went back to the 1950s and 1960s there were extremely high rates of people cycling for work as well as recreationally across the country," he explained.

"One of the things that is the most effective ways of improving health — whether it's cardiovascular, cancer or mental health — is physical exercise. And active transport is a particularly important way to do this because it builds it into people's normal routines of daily life, rather than being seen as something that is separate."

Cycling UK welcomed the appointment, with head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore calling it "fantastic" news.

"While the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is hopefully behind us, the obesity crisis which drains NHS resource and costs billions has not gone away. Cycling could be one of the miracle pills to help us through it, so it's fantastic to see Professor Sir Chris Whitty's appointment by Active Travel England," he told

"Our hope has to be that the government will recognise the wider benefits cycling has like Sir Chris, and its forthcoming Halloween mini-budget doesn't cut active travel funding, which it's already admitted needs to increase to meet the government's own targets for getting more people cycling."

The first quarterly meeting of Active Travel England's new Advisory Panel will take place later in October, with the high-profile appointments perhaps allaying fears the body could be scrapped or cut back.

Admittedly, those fears came during Liz Truss's blink-and-you'll-miss-it premiership — from Boris Johnson's transport advisor Andrew Gilligan — with suggestions made the body launched during Johnson's time in No.10 may not "survive" the "radical" new administration.

> New Conservative government could scrap Active Travel England, Boris Johnson's transport advisor warns

Ultimately, it did and it now remains to be seen to what extent Truss' successor is willing to back active travel.

Last week, Minister of State at the Department for Transport Lucy Fazer admitted that the current active travel funding is not enough to meet the government's own goals.

She suggested that a minimum of £4.4 billion was needed to meet the 2025 target, almost £600 million more than was allocated in June, telling the House of Commons: "A minimum of £5.5 billion is likely to be required to meet the objectives to 2030."

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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