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Residents urged to walk and cycle more

Local residents should seriously consider walking and cycling as ways to travel on their everyday journeys instead of using the car, says active travel programme Let’s Go Tees Valley.

Local residents should seriously consider walking and cycling as ways to travel on their everyday journeys instead of using the car, says active travel programme Let’s Go Tees Valley.

A new study of residents’ travel behaviour before, during and after the COVID-19 restrictions reveals that 53% of people questioned reported walking or cycling more during lockdown, and that over 40% of respondents said they wanted to continue with their healthier habits as restrictions are relaxed.

The top three motivations for cycling more were; for exercise and health, for short journeys and to save money.

The results also indicated that many people who rarely or never cycled (44% of respondents) had now embraced life on two wheels, and a third of those planned to continue cycling in the future.

The survey was conducted by Let’s Go Tees Valley during the height of the Coronavirus lockdown, which gathered views from over 1,000 adults from Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and Redcar & Cleveland throughout May 2020.

The report comes as the Conservative government launches its ambitious new walking and cycling vision, in a bid to encourage healthier lifestyles, improve the environment and reduce pressure on our road network.

The Prime Minister has this week released details of a raft of measures designed to get more people travelling by bike and by foot, instead of the car, including a free Fix Your Bike voucher scheme, an improved national cycle and walking route network, and free cycle training for adults as well as children.

Let’s Go Tees Valley, which is funded by the Department for Transport supported by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, and works with the five Tees Valley local authorities, provides encouragement, information and advice on all forms of non-car transport, including walking, cycling, bus and train.

Mayor Houchen said: “We need to keep up the momentum in encouraging cycling and walking not only as a socially distanced alternative to public transport following the coronavirus, but also to help people stay active and as a clean travel alternative. This latest study is extremely encouraging in showing people want to make this long-term change.

“The latest Government strategy and its £2billion funding package coming from that will help us go further in delivering an even better walking and cycling infrastructure around Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. We’re hard at work with the local authorities identifying how we can deliver more top-quality routes local people deserve, so watch this space.”

Georgina Burke, Marketing and Communications Officer at Let’s Go Tees Valley said: “The findings from our investigations prove that huge numbers of people in our area have found massive benefits from walking and cycling over the last few months, and our remit is to help them to continue to travel this way.”

“Walking and cycling should be viewed as ‘normal’ ways to get around, not just something that fit people do on the weekend. Over two thirds of all journeys by car are less than 5 miles, which only takes around 25 minutes by bike. Walking and cycling more is a relatively cheap and easy way to build extra physical activity in our daily lives.”

During the core lockdown period, Let’s Go Tees Valley experienced record numbers of people accessing walking and cycling information online.

“We’ve seen an almost 500% increase in the number of people visiting the cycling section on our website, compared to the same period last year”, continued Georgina. “This, along with the results from our survey, clearly demonstrates that the demand for walking and cycling is high and we must do everything we can help people stay active as we come out of lockdown.”

Walking and cycling information, including downloadable maps, details of the ‘active travel hubs’ around the Tees Valley and how to sign up for the Bike Buddy ride-to-work scheme, can be found here on the Lets Go Tees Valley website​.

People can also register for the Fix Your Bike Voucher Scheme at https://fixyourbikevoucherscheme.est.org.uk/​. Vouchers are being released gradually to reflect the capacity of the bike repairers signed up to the scheme.

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