Active transport can tackle some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, including air pollution, the obesity epidemic, and transport-related social exclusion. Recognising these wide ranging benefits, the UK launched the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy ( CWIS), which sets out to double the number of stages cycled compared with the baseline year of 2013, and “reverse the decline in walking” and double cycling whilst simultaneously reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured per billion km walked or cycled year-on-year.

This raises the question: which interventions are most effective at enabling uptake of walking and cycling and increasing road safety?

The SaferActive project was conceived by Dr Robin Lovelace and colleagues at the Insititute for Transport Studies (ITS) to help this and related questions. The project was funded in spring 2020 by the UK’s Department for Transport to provide strong evidence to national and local government. It is the first project undertaken in the UK that applies a data science approach to active travel, with equal attention given to the questions ‘how to get people walking and cycling?’ and ‘how to make the roads safer for active travel?’

As shown in the figure below, levels of walking and cycling have flattlined in recent years. Furthermore, there has been no substantial improvement in safety outcomes and even slight increases in casualty rates in some years.

For a detailed description of the projects aims see the original bid document in the saferactive GitHub team.