Posted: 07.02.20 at 15:20 by The Editor
Posted on: 7 February 2020
Walking and cycling schemes in Devon have received a half-million pound boost, thanks to a funding announcement today (Friday 7 February).
The £500,000 grant from the Department for Transport will extend Devon County Council’s Access Fund Programme for a fourth year.
The programme aims to increase the proportion of walking and cycling trips to workplaces, schools or colleges in Exeter, Barnstaple and Newton Abbot. Along with additional initiatives, such as Carshardevon.com and cycle confidence training, the programme has so far saved an estimated 2,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions across Devon since 2017.
Through the “Access to Education” element of the programme, more than 70,000 students have taken part in almost 1,000 different sustainable travel events delivered by the Sustrans Active Travel Officers. These events are providing students with the knowledge to develop sustainable travel habits from an early age.
The County Council has engaged with over 140 businesses across Exeter, Barnstaple and Newton Abbot, through the programme’s “Access to Employment” element, complemented by over 160 business events. Commuters have received direct support by providing more than 420 personal travel plans, issuing more than 200 public transport “taster” tickets and delivering cycle confidence training to more than 340 people.
Almost 5,000 people have taken part in walking and cycling challenges. Feedback suggests these are having a lasting impact on travel beyond the challenge periods, with 32% of those taking part saying they intend to cycle more frequently following the cycle challenge, and 40% replacing at least one car journey per week with walking.
Through the cycling challenges to date, Devon cyclists have completed over 53,000 trips by bicycle, covering almost 550,000 miles. A grand total of 113,970 miles were clocked up by 110 teams during the 2019 workplace walking challenge (Big Devon March). The 2020 workplace walking challenge (Lets Walk) is currently underway and looks set to smash all records as 290 teams have already signed up.
There are also more than 11,000 active users on carsharedevon.com and cycle parking facilities have been installed at more than 160 sites.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “The Department for Transport has recognised the valuable role our Access Funding Programme is playing in encouraging people to choose sustainable travel options and reduce carbon emissions. We welcome this additional funding to enable the programme to continue. The feedback we have from the cycling and walking challenges is that they have a lasting effect on how people travel, encouraging them to make long term changes. We’re also planning to unveil a new workplace sustainability challenge later this year.”
As well as enabling the continuation of the funding, the latest DfT funding will enable Devon to update the Travel Devon Business toolkit which supports businesses across the county with information and tools for promoting sustainable transport.