TRAVEL: Region can be cycle capital

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The Northumberland Cycling and Walking Board of the county council produced an excellent aspirant document back in the spring.

The Geared Up prospectus aims to “promote walking and cycling to improve health and well-being and the local economy of Northumberland”.

The ambition is to be spending £15 per resident/year by 2020.

Now 2020 is only four years away and as of the 2015/16 Local Transport Plan the council was spending around £2.93 per person/year directly on walking and cycling infrastructure.

Why does this matter and what can we do to help?

Active travel is proven to improve health and the vitality of town centres, and to reduce both congestion and pollution, work days lost to sickness, and crime, as well as to improve social inclusion.

It can also substantially reduce the climate effects of transport.

The carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for transport in the UK have decreased only three per cent from 1990 levels, while other major sectors have seen large reductions – 22 per cent for buildings to 48 per cent for industry.

Our transport system is obviously failing to reach the level of reduction needed to meet the UK obligations under the Paris Agreement, and yet it is the obvious solution to our local transport needs.

The Mayor of London recently pledged to spend £17 per person/year on cycling alone, so this is politically feasible. He wishes to make cycling the “safe and obvious” choice of transport for all Londoners.

We need to push those seeking local election next year to pledge to equal this target.

Northumberland can become the cycling capital of the North East.

Cycling is available to all ages and abilities, and with the advent of electrically assisted bikes, hills are no longer a problem.

Safe, segregated cycling and walking routes, with secure storage for bikes at schools, workplaces and in town centres, will revolutionise our travel. We will be fitter, happier and more connected to nature.

Who would like a safe route to school, to work, the doctor’s surgery, the shops and the station? All we need to do now is ask.

Martin Swinbank,

Chapel Lands,

Alnwick