Bike shop window, Utrecht
Bike shop window, Utrecht

There’s a lack of belief in active travel at North Yorkshire County Council – a feeling that it’s impossible to persuade people to walk or cycle short journeys instead of using their cars. But in reality, modal shift is not only possible, but essential.

Active Travel & Climate Policy

The government recognises that we need to walk and cycle more, and drive less. These ideas are set out in many places:

  • The Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy, which states that the government wants to make cycling and walking the natural choices for short journeys, or as part of longer journeys
  • The Parliamentary Science & Technology Select Committee says moving to electric cars cannot achieve sufficient emissions cuts; modal shift is essential to meet carbon reduction targets
  • The UK Climate Assembly recommends that we reduce our car use by 2-5% per decade, and that we quickly ban the sale of the most polluting vehicles (SUVs and pickup trucks). SUVs and pickup trucks make up about 40% of new cars sold, and are proliferating in Harrogate
  • In the Foreword to Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps says, ‘We will use our cars less…’

We Know It Is Possible

We know modal shift is possible, and happens if you provide a network of high quality cycle routes, that makes bikes the most convenient way to get around. See, for example, these two videos.

1) Bicycle Dutch Explains the Benefits of the 25% Modal Share for Cycling in the Netherlands

2) An Overview of the Cycle Network in Utrecht

Modal share for the bike in Utrecht is 51%.

People Are Ready to Make a Change

A large proportion of people are ready to use their cars less. In the National Travel Attitudes Study, 76% of respondents in England said we all have a responsibility to drive less for the sake of the environment, and to make our towns and cities better places to live. There is also growing public opposition to road-building.

These views are reflected in the results of the Harrogate Congestion Survey.

It is also true that not everyone agrees, and it will require strong leadership to stick with active travel schemes, rather than ripping them out if a vocal minority complains.

Cycling Short Journeys Instead of Driving

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