A North Yorkshire scheme to encourage people to swap their cars for transport that is healthier and helps to reduce congestion is being extended.
The County Council has run the Open North Yorkshire programme in three towns – Harrogate, Scarborough and Skipton – over the past three years, helping schools, businesses and residents to change travel habits after the authority made a successful bid for £1m to the Department for Transport (DfT) to run the scheme. The DfT has now awarded a further £325,000, supported by £32,500 from the County Council, to continue the work for another 12 months.
The three towns offer the most potential for shifting to sustainable transport based on population, the levels of economic and residential development and the levels of congestion.
The programme has so far worked with major employers to develop travel plans for staff, with more than 1,200 personal journey plans created for employees. Cycle training for adults has been an important element to improve confidence and safety and to encourage people to cycle to work.
Work with schools has included a park and stride scheme at King James’s, Knaresborough. St Augustine’s Catholic School, Scarborough, becoming the first North Yorkshire school to achieve Modeshift STARS bronze accreditation, which recognises schools that support cycling, walking and other sustainable travel. Officers have distributed more than 400 bus and train taster tickets, delivered more than 1,900 sustainable travel information packs to people living on new housing developments and distributed thousands of cycling and walking maps in each town.
Dan Braidley, Environmental and Sustainability Manager at Scarborough Hospital NHS Trust, which has worked with the programme, said: “We are constantly trying to raise awareness of sustainable transport options that our staff could use to travel to and from work, especially cycling. Working with the programme has given us the opportunity to engage, offer training opportunities and empower our staff to try something different that offers health benefits and is more environmentally friendly.”
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “Open North Yorkshire is part of our commitment to sustainable travel, particularly to support economic growth.
“Experience has shown that when we work intensively with individuals and groups there is higher participation and awareness and greater change in travel behaviour. We understand that people need a high level of support to make changes, so the extension programme will focus more on this intensive work with individuals and groups.”
The additional funding will support further cycle training plus cycle maintenance workshops, promoting more school park and stride schemes, delivering public cycle rides and walks and identifying walking routes as alternatives to car journeys. Officers will also explore cycle hire and loan schemes and options to increase cycle parking in public and residential spaces, along with real-time information feeds for businesses and schools. They will also promote sustainable transport to ensure routes and infrastructure are considered when sites are developed.