It is not often that you get public health academics, urban planners, exercise scientists, health psychologists, educators, sociologists, transport authorities, bicycle-user group members, local council workers and concerned citizens in a room focused on a single topic. Yet the Active Transport in the Tropics Network (ATTN) has succeeded in bringing this diverse group together to focus on improving active travel. ATTN is an interdisciplinary, cross organizational network who meet at the intersection of practical discussion, research and advocacy. The aspirational goal of the network is ‘to make Townsville the safest, most active, eco-friendly transport city in Australia and the tropics by 2030’. A driving factor for this goal was an acknowledgement of Townsville resident’s rising weight, the abundance of sunny days and flat topography.
The network’s profile and agenda has been bolstered by delivering, contributing to and representation at community consultation and public events. The network will soon release a position statement which drawing upon this foundational work, will outline: the benefits of active transport for healthy living, the importance of promoting the safety of active transport users, the need to stimulate wider community engagement and to advocate for spaces and infrastructure that are conducive for active transport. Some of the key concerns pertaining to reaching these objectives from a tropical and regional perspective include infrastructure availability and connectivity, inclusivity, social acceptability and climatic barriers (dry tropics). For active transport adoption to occur, safety needs to be prioritised; as without this, attempts to encourage individual activation is moot.