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Study at WCH Budapest 23 to measure environmental, health and economic benefits of active mobility

What are some of the benefits that active travel can bring to a large sporting event? That’s a question that an active mobility study conducted by the World Athletics Health & Science and Sustainability teams will help to answer over a two-week period when the world converges on the Hungarian capital for the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23.

More than 200 participants in the study will be cycling, walking and even running to and from their hotels and homes to the Hungarian National Athletics Centre each day. In collaboration with Strava Metro, the study will track the participants’ commutes to evaluate the benefits of active travel at a large sporting event by measuring the impacts that active inter-modal transportation has on local motor vehicle traffic, the amount of Greenhouse Gas emissions that are avoided and the economic impacts that active mobility can bring. Measuring benefits to health and wellbeing is an additional important focus of the project.

The study also aims to measure how an event organising team can reduce its own transport footprint by encouraging and practicing active travel when on site in the host city.

The project, financed in part by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Programme, will involve almost 40 members of World Athletics staff who will cover the 5.5km one-way commute from the headquarters hotel by bike, more than 100 service providers commuting from their hotels and around 75 LOC volunteers making their way to the main venue from their homes in Budapest.

The study was piloted at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon last year, when around 25 people regularly participated over the course of two weeks. A follow-up analysis showed that even a group that small logging relatively few trips can have a measurable impact.

The 58 three-kilometre cycling trips per week reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 93.06kg and nitric oxide (NOx) emissions by nearly half a kilogramme, roughly equivalent to planting 112 trees. Choosing to commute by bike during rush hour periods saved the participants 1 hour and 56 minutes per week and resulted in savings of just under €98 week in travel-related expenses.

In Budapest, participants will be making around 2800 trips per week, ranging in distance from 3.5km to 8km.

World Athletics hopes to continue building on this foundation at future editions of the World Championships to eventually bring spectators into the equation where infrastructure allows – or where local organising committees can work to have the infrastructure put in place.

The study is expected to be released in October.

Credit: Bob Ramsak for World Athletics

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