Active transport is a relatively new term to describe walking, cycling and the use of public transport as forms of transport that involve human physical activity with substantial benefits for health, safety and well-being. Active transport is becoming increasingly important in Australia where a large proportion of the population suffers from a wide range of illnesses and premature mortality on account of increasing sedentary lifestyle. Increasing the level of active transport relative to the level of motor vehicle use would also have considerable environmental benefits, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and in the amount of land required for motor vehicle use.
This paper examines the current state of local policy and practice in active transport in Australia through describing a novel project in Sydney’s Inner West. The Hawthorne Canal Active Transport (HCAT) project is a two-year project to support and encourage cycling as a form of active transport. The context of the project is described, along with actions undertaken as part of the project. The paper looks at what lessons can be learnt from the project so far and asks how can research assist? In particular, we seek to promote dialogue about how researchers can work with policy makers, practitioners and advocates to modify Australian cities to facilitate getting about locally.