East Devon Green Party Press Release Monday 22nd August 2011
While Honiton Town Councillor Sharon Pavey was visiting the north-east last week, she took the opportunity to find out more about Darlington’s status as a designated ‘Cycling Demonstration Town’.
Sharon says “I spent some of my childhood in Darlington so when I heard about all the work that has been done on sustainable travel there over the past seven years, I took the opportunity to find out more in order to bring some practical ideas back to Honiton.”
As a keen cyclist herself, the local Green Party co-ordinator would like to see the opportunities for cycling developed in Honiton in order to cut car journeys and congestion, reduce harmful emissions and improve health. Sharon says “I was interested to find out that 34% of car journeys in Darlington had the potential to be made using alternative transport or walking/cycling. It makes you wonder what that figure is here in Honiton which is a much smaller town with shorter distances from the outskirts into the centre”.
Darlington had less than 1% of children cycling to school in 2004 and now seven years on, 8% of children cycle to school (the national average is just 2%).
Sharon adds “Apparently two out of three trips we make are less than 5 miles so there is a lot of potential to walk or cycle, but people do need safe routes, support and encouragement. Darlington was fortunate to obtain funding to allow them to run a bike hire scheme, develop a massive network of safe, marked routes, produce maps and guides, hold a cycling festival, and work constructively with schools and employers.”
Research also shows that improvements to sustainable travel can increase turnover in the high street by 5 to 15% because people who travel to the shops on foot, by bicycle or public transport perhaps surprisingly tend to spend more per head than those who travel by car.
Cycling is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your daily routine because it’s also a form of transport and can burn up to a staggering 650 calories in one hour. It is the third most popular recreational activity in the UK, with an estimated 3.1 million people cycling each month.
Inspired by her meeting in County Durham, Sharon is now talking with transport officers at East Devon District Council, Devon County Council and Sustrans to find out what plans they have to develop sustainable transport in the county and will be reporting back her findings to Honiton Town Council in due course.
Contact Sharon Pavey – co-ordinator East Devon Green Party