Public asked to pledge to travel sustainably at least once a week

People in the North East will be encouraged to switch one car journey a week to public transport, walking, cycling or wheeling and for people who don’t have access to a car to continue travelling sustainably, as outlined in a new modal shift strategy – Making the Right Travel Choice.  

Switching just one trip per week that would have been made by car to walking, cycling, wheeling or a public transport journey would mean 200 million extra green trips in the North East per year, and consequently the removal of 200 million unnecessary car trips from our region’s roads.

The new strategy highlights impactful transport schemes and campaigns that can be brought forward to encourage everyone in the region to increase their sustainable journeys.

Extensive consultation took place this summer. Stakeholders provided feedback on the draft strategy and members of the public shared their views on what would help them and others to travel more sustainably in future. The strategy is set to be approved by the Joint Transport Committee at its November meeting.

Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair, North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “Thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation around this new strategy – I’m pleased people shared with us what they feel can be done to boost sustainable travel and lower the reliance on car travel.

“We know that we need to make it easier for people to travel sustainably and we urgently need to take action to address the climate emergency and public health crisis associated with poor air quality. This strategy outlines actions we’ll take forward to boost active travel and public transport usage so we all benefit.

“Alongside impactful schemes and initiatives is an ask for members of the public – we’re asking everyone to think about how they travel and to try and choose sustainable transport for one journey a week. This small change will boost the health and wellbeing of local people as well as helping the environment. Green travel is great for everyone and it’s often the cheapest way to get around. My hope is that the public make this pledge and we begin to see the benefits across the North East as we all adapt our transport habits.”

Schemes within the strategy include:

  • a wide-scale promotional campaign aimed at supporting people to switch one journey per week to a journey that is walked, cycled, wheeled or taken via public transport
  • incentivising sustainable trips using an app-based rewards system
  • working in partnership with North East GPs, nurses and other healthcare providers to “prescribe” healthy travel by referring patients who are keen to improve their health and wellbeing through active travel
  • engaging children and parents through school initiatives
  • new Go Smarter to School and Work promotional campaigns
  • improved public transport ticketing and real-time passenger information (through the delivery of the region’s Bus Services Improvement Plan)
  • incentivising sustainable travel by promoting trials of local car clubs, electric bikes and scooters, taxi sharing, on demand bus and minibus services.

It’s estimated around 33% of car trips are under 5 miles – a distance which could be ‘swapped’ to a sustainable mode such as walking, wheeling, cycling or using public transport in many cases.

In the North East, currently 1 in 4 adults are physically inactive and air pollution and congestion are negatively impacting public health and the local economy. In central Tyneside alone air pollution is responsible for around 360 deaths each year and road congestion is estimated to cost every North East driver around £236 per year.

Public transport use is still below pre-pandemic passenger levels and work is ongoing to encourage commuters back onto sustainable transport to cut carbon emissions.  

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