Active travel is a concept of travel that includes only those forms of transport that require active use of the human body as a transport machine. Examples of the type of travel include walking and cycling, as these burn off energy in comparison to sedentary travel forms like driving or getting the bus. The term active travel can also refer to vacations that involve energetic pursuits such as trekking or cross-country skiiing.
In terms of the more common usage of the term "active travel," it is commuting and other necessary trips that are involved in the focus on walking and cycling, but not when these modes of travel are used for leisure. Active travel is pitted against public transport and cars as common ways to get to places like work, and can attract support from authorities like governmental health agencies. People who already walk or use a bicycle as a primary mode of transport may do so for environmental, health or practical reasons.
It is for these reasons that the proponents of cycling and walking wish to see an increase in the usage of these ways of travel. In addition, active travel is also argued to have beneficial effects on the community, such as increased interaction with neighbors, and a reduction in traffic. Proponents of active travel also cite high levels of obesity as one of the main reasons to choose active travel options over other forms of transport.
Problems facing walking and cycling as a practical option for many people derive from the layout and use of urban and rural areas. Often, these are designed to suit car drivers and people who use buses and trains. Roads without cycle lanes or footpaths, and crowded, high traffic city streets, can make cycling or walking hazardous. Ensuring that cities and countryside authorities provide safe and rapid walking and cycling links to areas of interest are high on the priorities of many advocacy organizations for this way of traveling.
When used in reference to vacations, active travel means something similar, but stretches the definition to include sporting activities, rather than commutes. People who go on these types of vacations look for energetic ways to spend their days off, rather than lounging on a beach and sunbathing. Examples of active vacations include hill walking, cycling through countries to experience the scenery and people at close quarters or lending a hand on a dude ranch.