Since March over 10 million people in England have regularly swapped a car journey for walking or cycling.
In Suffolk, we have seen just over a 160% increase in the number of people cycling in 2020 compared to the total number of people cycling in the whole of 2019.
Our aim is simple – to encourage more people to get out and about by walking, cycling and using public transport – whilst observing social distancing and Covid-19 guidelines of course. We want to embed sustainable transport as part of a long-term habit and reap the associated health, air quality and congestion benefits.
We can do this by swapping short car journeys for walking or cycling on the commute to work, taking the children to school, visiting the shops, and for longer journeys combine active travel with public transport.
Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on all our lives, but one of the positives to come out of the crisis is the noticeable increase in people walking and cycling. The Government has recognised this change in behaviour and the long term benefits and has provided funding to local authorities to make it safer and easier for their residents to use active travel modes.
Across Suffolk, in line with the Department for Transport (DfT) guidelines, we’ve made, and are continuing to make, alterations to road layouts in our county towns by closing off sections of roads to motorised vehicles, widening existing footpaths and cycle lanes and providing temporary footpaths and cycle lanes. We have changed traffic signal timings to reduce waiting times for pedestrians and cyclists at puffin and toucan crossings.
We’re also offering free family cycling sessions and bike maintenance vouchers, providing cycling storage at key locations and engaging with schools and businesses about the benefits of active travel.
Our efforts and commitment to active travel have been praised by the DfT. Now, as we face our second lockdown and the weather gets colder, I hope residents continue with their sustainable travel choices for essential travel and daily exercise. To support this, in November Suffolk County Council will be launching its campaign, ‘Let’s make a change for the future!’
This will all be complemented with pop up outdoor signage around our county towns and near primary schools in built-up areas.
I believe we’ve got a once in a lifetime opportunity here to create a shift in attitudes for generations to come. I want everyone to feel the transformative benefits of sustainable travel in Suffolk for our health and wellbeing and the environment. I am committed to making this vision a reality.
To find out more about all the measures Suffolk County Council is putting in place to make improvements to the way we travel and to share your views with us, visit suffolk.gov.uk/adviceontravel.
Councillor Andrew Reid
Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs.