'Build infrastructure to support cyclists' county council hears report from University of Warwick expert

  Posted: 18.02.21 at 11:36 by David Lawrence - Local Democracy Reporter

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Warwickshire County Council should be going the extra mile to encourage more bike shops to open so that they could offer discounts to those cycling to work.

The call came as councillors considered a project organised by public health expert Dr Paul Coleman, from the University of Warwick, which encouraged council staff to leave their cars at home and walk, cycle or catch the bus to work.

Speaking at this week’s communities overview and scrutiny meeting, Dr Coleman explained that of those travelling into Warwick to work, fewer than three per cent walked or cycled with the vast majority making the journey by car.

He explained that the six-month project involving 30 employees from the county council and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council resulted in a number of them ditching their car for a greener commute.

Dr Coleman said: “The primary aim of this project was to determine whether people who commute to work via car change their primary mode of transport to walking or cycling following the delivery of a multifaceted workplace travel planning intervention called the ‘choose how you move’ toolkit. The secondary aim was to identify factors that could encourage them.”

Those factors included a greater flexibility in working hours, safer cycle and walking routes, a park-and-ride system and financial incentives such as discounts at local cycle shops.

Dr Coleman also explained to councillors some of the barriers which participants felt stopped them from cycling and walking. These included the need to carry bulky items to work, childcare issues which saw them incorporate the school run into their commute, and the lack of workplace cycling facilities such as showers, drying rooms and a secure bike store.

He added: “The barriers identified to walking or cycling to work were consistent with previous research and included active travel being more inconvenient than driving.”

Committee members praised the report and were told that a modified version of the project could be effective in promoting active travel among a wider number of council staff.

And Cllr Keith Kondakor (Green, Weddington) was keen to make it as easy as possible to bike to work.

He said: “The county council does need to be actively trying to get cycle retailing back up in the county particularly for people who don’t cycle and need to have their bike repaired because they don’t have the skills.

“We need to build that infrastructure up to support cyclists. If you have a high-paid job you haven’t got the time to go fixing a bicycle so having a cycle retailer is really important.”

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