With schools re-open, pupils using public transport and people returning to the workplace, Let’s Go Tees Valley understands the need to be cautious when we move around and is actively encouraging walking and cycling to avoid overwhelming the transport system, especially at peak times.
During lockdown a huge number of us began walking and cycling rather than using public transport or cars. This had fantastic benefits for public health and the environment, not to mention an easing of pressure on public transport.
In a study conducted during the height of lockdown 1,000 adults from Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and Redcar and Cleveland were questioned, and results showed that 53 per cent of respondents walked or cycled more than usual and found massive benefits from doing so. Even those who rarely or never cycled said they had got back on two wheels and were loving it!
Even as life begins to get back to normal post Covid, 40 per cent of respondents said they wish to continue this healthier routine and continue to travel by foot or bike.
The benefits of this would be huge for everyone. Being fitter and healthier both mentally and physically leads to less absenteeism at work.
No fuel usage equals financial savings, less congestion around the workplace, better air quality and thus a contribution towards fighting climate change.
“Our remit is to help people continue to travel this way,” says Georgina Burke, marketing and communications officer at survey organisers, Let’s Go Tees Valley which gives encouragement, information and advice on all forms of non-car transport.
Let’s Go Tees Valley is supported by the Tees Valley mayor and combined authority.
Mayor Ben Houchen says: “This latest study is extremely encouraging in showing people want to make this long-term change.
“We need to keep up the momentum by encouraging cycling and walking, not only as a socially distanced alternative to public transport following coronavirus, but also to help people stay active and as a clean travel alternative.”
Cyclists are encouraged to take advantage of various schemes which will aid them in their new routines. These include a salary sacrifice scheme to buy tax-free bikes or e-bikes if you have longer distances to travel, and Let’s Go Tees Valley’s Bike Buddy ride-to-work programme.
The Bike Buddy scheme provides a qualified ride leader to accompany cyclists to work, door to door, on a one-to-one basis.
The instructor will plan the safest route for the cyclist, based on distance and ability, and will ride with the cyclist to work to show them the way and advise on how to deal with any sections of the journey they are not confident with, such as roundabouts or junctions.
The service is completely free and operates throughout Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar.
“We are going further in delivering an even better walking and cycling infrastructure around Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool,” adds mayor Houchen.
“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.”
More information on Bike Buddy ride-to-work scheme can be found at letsgoteesvalley.co.uk/bike-buddy.