People living on new housing developments in the Skipton area are being offered help to look at alternative ways of making regular journeys, for example to work, school and shops, that could save time and money and improve health.
The Open Skipton initiative is also working with schools and businesses in the town to help residents and commuters make better informed choices about how they travel. The aim of this sustainable travel project is to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and instead to walk, cycle, car-share or use public transport.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We all care about our health and this initiative is about encouraging people to make small changes that will benefit them and the community in which they live. Leaving the car at home, even for one day a week, can make a real difference to your health as well as to congestion and air quality.
“Being active can build your stamina, reduce stress and improve your self-esteem. Even a brisk 10-minute walk each day counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.”
Open Skipton is part of the County Council’s three-year Open North Yorkshire programme, which runs until 2020. This has seen similar work take place in Harrogate and Scarborough, which, with Skipton, are seen as the towns offering the most potential for shifting to sustainable transport based on their population, expected economic and residential development and levels of congestion. Many journeys within the towns are relatively short, making walking and cycling viable options.
People taking part in the project could receive a free personalised journey plan, free cycle training and public transport taster tickets and could take part in travel challenges and initiatives to encourage them to choose active modes of travel.
Already, Skipton Girls High School and Skipton Academy are on board to work with the County Council’s sustainable travel team. Several businesses and organisations have signed up, too, including JBA Consulting, Craven District Council, Royal Mail, Skipton Hospital and Computershare.
Schools will receive support to deliver initiatives to increase the number of students walking and cycling to school and reduce school gate parking. This will culminate in a school travel plan through Modeshift STARS, the national award and recognition scheme for promoting active travel on the school run. Businesses will take part in a staff survey and receive an action plan outlining how their employees travel and how they can encourage them to do so sustainably.
The work with residents will focus mainly on new developments, as times of change, such as moving home or starting a new job, are good opportunities to change habits. Residents in various locations – Lambert Hills, Elsey Croft, Higher Raikes, High Trees on Rectory Lane and Vasco Broughton Road – have been sent information about the project with the offer of follow-up personal visits.
During these visits, people will be invited to take a survey about how they travel. They’ll be offered information, maps and a bespoke sustainable travel pack so they can make informed travel choices.
The County Council successfully bid for £1m from the Department for Transport to fund the work, supported by contributions from its own budget and partners.
Cllr Mackenzie added: “This is part of our commitment to sustainable travel, particularly to support economic growth. By helping to increase cycling and walking we can reduce congestion. For schools, it looks at taking cars away from the school gates and for some it is about health and air quality.”