A SCHEME to encourage residents of York to use their bikes more has generated “very promising” results, a new report has found.

The Cycle City York campaign, which ran from December 2008 to March last year, aimed to increase cycling in York and to double the number of children who cycled to school.

The final programme report into the scheme was released by the Department for Transport yesterday, and showed that the target for commuter cyclists had been more than exceeded, as had the overall number of cyclists in the city, although the target for schoolchildren was not met.

Graham Titchener, programme manager, said in the report: “It is fair to say that the increases which we have seen within just the two and a half years that the programme has been active are very promising indeed.

“It became clear early on that one of the three main measurable targets – to double the number of children cycling to school – was an unrealistic goal, although one which would continue to be striven for.”

The scheme was one of only 12 around the country, and was funded by a grant of £3.68 million from Cycling England, matched by City of York Council. It also covered improvements to current and new cycling infrastructure in the city.

The report showed that overall participation rose from ten percent to 15 per cent, doubling the initial target, and commuter cycling was “well over the ten per cent increase” the scheme aimed for.

David Hall, regional director of Sustrans, who helped run the scheme, said: “As part of Cycling City York we’ve seen new routes across the city, helpful information and cycle training to help people do more of their daily journeys by bike. We know that this combined approach, ambitious targets and sustained investment are what it takes to increase the levels of cycling and we hope York City Council will be inspired to continue to invest in getting more people travelling actively.”

Mr Titchener’s report also acknowledged that the programme had been hindered by bad publicity, particularly as it became a party political issue leading to heavy debate during last May’s local elections.

The final programme report on the York Cycling City project can be found on the DfT website.

York Press: The Press - Comment

Cycle initiative was big success

NORMAN Tebbit would approve. New figures reveal that more people in York are getting on their bikes to go to work than ever before.

The end of programme report by Cycling City York – a cycling initiative which came to an end last March after running for two years – reveals just how much of an impact it had on the city.

The proportion of workers at the city’s four major employers who cycle to work more than doubled, from 17 to 35 per cent. Nestlé alone saw a 15 per cent increase in its staff cycling to work and the University of York a 34 per cent rise.

An extra 10km of cycle routes were created; the cycle hub station opened; and a host of guided cycle rides were introduced to encourage more people to enjoy the benefits of exercise and fresh air.

As anyone who has ever read the letters’ pages of this newspaper will know, cyclists and motorists don’t always get on. The report acknowledges that lessons have to be learned from the way the controversial changes at Clifton Green were handled.

But the bottom line is that the more people who cycle, the fewer there will be driving to work.

That means fewer cars choking the city’s streets; fewer traffic jams; less pollution; and a fitter, healthier population.

If York were to become a true city of cyclists, it would be a much cleaner, greener, more pleasant place for us all.

We’re a long way away from that still. But Cycling City was an excellent start.

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