MORE than £1million of Government funding has been secured to help further work to promote walking and cycling in Leicester and Leicestershire.
The money – from the Department for Transport’s Access Fund – totals £1.065million, and has been given to Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council to extend a four-year programme of partnership work between the two councils, encouraging walking and cycling in the west of the city and surrounding area.
The programme has already led to notable increases in people walking and cycling. So far, it has provided information to more than 250,000 employees in the area, giving them advice and access to training and facilities to allow them to travel to work more sustainably.
More than 1,000 employees’ bikes have been serviced for free; hundreds have been taught how to maintain their own bikes; and 40 businesses have successfully applied for travel grants totalling more than £120,000, helping them to provide items such as lockers, showers, secure cycle parking, electric bike fleets and minibuses for staff. And more than 90 new employees and apprentices have been helped to travel to work through the Wheels 2 Work programme, where they can hire a low-cost bike, electric bike or electric scooter from the city council.
In local schools, more than 30,000 schoolchildren have taken part in activities to encourage walking and cycling to school. Partnering with Sustrans, the cycling charity, more than 25 ‘Bike It’ crews have been established.
The programme has also delivered Bikeability training to more than 10,000 pupils, and has worked with the walking charity Living Streets, resulting in nearly 70% of schoolchildren walking to school in Leicester, which is way above the national average of 49%.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “We’ve already done a lot of work to promote walking, cycling and other sustainable transport across the city, and it’s very encouraging to see that this work is paying off, particularly in the impact it’s having on children walking to school. These successes have been instrumental in our securing a further £1million to build on this work.
“Leicester has been named one of 105 cities globally to score an ‘A’ for leading climate action by CDP, a non-profit organisation that drives companies, cities and governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. We have been recognised for our climate leadership and transparency, stepping up to the helm to lead on ambitious and urgent climate action.
“We’re facing a climate emergency which requires urgent action at every level – individually, by local and national governments, and internationally. Everyone can play their part and we will be using this money to make it easier for us all to take action and make a positive impact on our local environment.”
Blake Pain, lead member for environment and transport at Leicestershire County Council, said: “Our county council team has championed numerous schemes to help the public across Leicestershire choose active and sustainable travel. From our electric bike scheme, business and school outreach programmes, and our cycle courses it is great to see our hard work being recognised and receiving continued support.
“We’re proud to be leading the way in sustainable travel to achieve our 2030 goal of carbon neutrality. We offer staff car-sharing spaces, electric charging points, as well as an electric pool car and pool bikes to use to and from meetings. We are eager to work with people across the county to help them reduce their own carbon footprint.”
The money will be used next year to deliver 20 travel roadshows and engage with up to 100,000 people, so that they know what options are available to them for sustainable transport. £30,000 will be made available as grants for businesses to help them make active travel easier for their employees, and 2,500 children will be receiving Bikeability training. Some of the funding will also be used to hold the third annual Walk Leicester festival, which has already attracted more than 7,000 participants in its first two years.
To find out more about active travel in Leicester and Leicestershire, visit www.choosehowyoumove.co.uk