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The PASTA London project


Want to help provide London decision-makers with hard evidence on the benefits of walking and cycling, thus making the case for future investments? Want to make London a better place to live? The PASTA Project at Imperial College London wants to hear from you.


As witnessed by the recent Mayoral Election, transport is becoming an ever hotter topic in London, primarily because of the growing awareness of the capital’s poor air quality. The concentration levels of several air pollutants in London exceed EU legislative and World Health Organisation recommended limits, and scientists have concluded that nearly 9,500 Londoners die early each year due to long-term exposure to air pollution.


The PASTA Project is a major EU-funded research study that aims to show that how we travel in cities is not only an environmental issue, but also an issue strongly tied to health. The physical inactivity associated with urban lifestyles bring a major challenge to public health. We have an increasingly sedentary lifestyle – many of us sit for most of the day, and half of all trips shorter than 5 km are driven by car.


The UK’s Chief Medical Officers recommend that an average adult should spend at least 150 minutes a week on physical activity, defined as moderate-intensity activity that that raises your breathing rate (such as cycling or swimming). Two-thirds of the adult population in the EU do not reach this recommended level. Indeed, finding the time and to do so is not always easy.


This is where PASTA comes in – a rather entertaining research project acronym that stands for Physical Activity through Sustainable Transport Approaches. PASTA aims to connect transport and health by promoting walking and cycling as a way of integrating physical activity into our daily routines. In addition to being environmentally sustainable forms of transport, walking and cycling have great benefits for health: daily walking or cycling is an easy way for individuals to reach the recommended level of physical activity.


Seven European case-study cities are part of the PASTA project. The London case-study is based at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, by a team led by air pollution expert Dr Audrey de Nazelle. PASTA is aiming to recruit 14,000 participants across Europe to take part in an online survey and provide data on their travel habits and physical activity levels. 10,000 people have already responded.


In London, we are focusing specifically on East London and what the impact of the 2012 Olympics has been on sustainable travel in the four Olympic Boroughs (Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest). To ensure our research is informed and used by local decision-makers, and to engage with local communities, we have partnered with the London Borough of Newham on this project. We are also working with TfL, the GLA, the other three Olympic Boroughs and the London Legacy Development Corporation, with whom we will share our project data.


1500 Londoners have already taken part in PASTA!


Help us to reach our target of 2000 participants by October, and take our online travel survey today:


Everyone over 18 living or working in London is eligible to take part, regardless of how they currently commute. To thank participants for their time, there is a monthly prize draw of £100, and participants can also win rewards by referring your friends and family.



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