Press release

Rush hour challenge for cyclists, runners and walkers in West Midlands

Cyclists, runners and walkers will see if they can travel quicker than car drivers during the rush hour on Wednesday 3 June.

An image of a person cycling on a pavement

The Rush Hour Challenge is an annual event which sees a car commuter pitted against cyclists, runners, walkers and bus passengers travelling over a set distance.

Last year the event took place in Coventry. However, this year Birmingham, Walsall and Solihull are all joining in the challenge; supported by Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands.

Published by PHE in October 2014, Everybody Active, Every Day is a framework for national and local action to address the national physical inactivity epidemic, responsible for 1 in 6 deaths and costing the country an estimated £7.4 billion a year.

In the West Midlands, just 56% of people meet the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity a week and 28% are considered ‘inactive’.

The framework provides 4 areas for action:

  • change the social ‘norm’ to make physical activity the expectation
  • develop expertise and leadership within professionals and volunteers
  • create environments to support active lives
  • identify and up-scale successful programmes nationwide

PHE West Midlands is supporting the Rush Hour Challenge as one way of encouraging people to build physical activity into everyday life by cycling or walking regularly.

David Elliott, Health and Wellbeing manager for PHE West Midlands, said:

The Rush Hour Challenge is a bit of fun, but we hope it will also encourage people to leave the car at home when they can.

Last year, Coventry showed that cycling and running were quicker than driving and, even though walking was slower, it was a more pleasant journey.

Walking or cycling as part of everyday journeys is an easy way to get more activity into people’s daily lives, which will help lead to better health.

We’re pleased more local authorities have taken up the challenge this year and we are supporting the work councils and businesses are doing to make workplaces and other destinations more accessible, pleasant and safe on foot, cycle or public transport.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans is supporting the events in Birmingham and Solihull. Sustrans programme manager Joe Green said:

The challenge will demonstrate in a fun and engaging way how quick, convenient and enjoyable it can be to choose to walk, cycle or take public transport when getting around town, and that they’re truly viable alternatives to taking the car.

Projects like this will transform how people get around cities and towns in the West Midlands, making them healthier, greener, safer and less congested places to live; places we can all be proud of.

Sustrans is offering cycle training, advice, maps and route planning to businesses and their employees through the Birmingham Cycle Revolution. With all of these facilities in place I hope the challenge will encourage more people to get in contact and get on their bikes.

Follow the #RushHourChallenge on Twitter


  • Events taking place in West Midlands are:

    • in Birmingham, the council’s deputy leader Ian Ward will ride a Big Birmingham Bike, alongside other cyclists, a runner, walker, a bus passenger and a car driver from Birmingham Council House to the Midlands Art Centre (MAC), a distance of 2.5 miles, setting off at 5.30pm. This event is being organised by transport charity Sustrans with Birmingham Council.

    • in Walsall cyclists, walkers and runners will pit themselves against a car driver from Walsall Manor Hospital to the town hall. Some council staff are also swapping their normal car journey to bike, walking or bus.

    • in Coventry walkers, runners, cyclists and roller skaters will be looking to see if they can beat the car from the Council House steps to the War Memorial Park; they will also get the opportunity to test out the newly opened £14.9 million landscaped bridge deck and pedestrian boulevard. Workplaces, a school and a nursery will be taking part in the event, which is being organised by the City Council’s Coventry on the Move team, who aim to encourage people to get up and active and while having some fun, to ‘take the first step’ towards a more active life.

    • in Solihull, council employees, including the Chief Executive Nick Page, will travel along a route from Theatre Square out to Shirley Park. Runners, cyclists, car users, bus users and even a scooter will be taking part. This event is being organised by transport charity Sustrans with Solihull Council.

  • Watch a video of last year’s Rush Hour Challenge event in Coventry.

Watch a video of last year’s Rush Hour Challenge event in Coventry.

  • Sustrans is a UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day. They work with families, communities, policy-makers and partner organisations so that people are able to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys, with better places and spaces to move through and live in.

  • Birmingham Cycle Revolution is the vision of Birmingham City Council, to make cycling an everyday way to travel in the city over the next 20 years. The Council wants 5% of all trips in Birmingham to be made by bike by 2023 and to double this again to 10% by 2033.

  • Everybody Active, Every Day was launched on 23 October 2014 at the Kia Oval, where Jane Ellison MP, Minister for Public Health joined Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive at PHE, with participation from Lord Coe and Jennie Price, Chief Executive at Sport England. The framework was the first consolidation of national and local priorities, including the Moving More, Living More cross government commitment for a more active nation as part of the legacy from the 2012 Games and the NICE physical activity guidance.

  • Data showing the percentage of people considered ‘active’ and ‘inactive’ across the West Midlands and for each county or unitary council area is available in the Public Health Outcomes Framework (at line 2.13).

  • Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @PHE_UK @PHE_WestMids

PHE West Midlands press office

Public Health England
5 St Philip's Place

Published 3 June 2015