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Gearing up for active travel at community event

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The challenge of increasing walking and cycling across the Stroud district was given centre stage at a special meeting of local organisations and community groups which can make a difference.

Town and parish councils, cycling advocacy groups and SDC councillors heard from a wide range of expert speakers who covered how to identify and implement walking and cycling projects, how councils can help in this process, and the role town and parish councils can play in increasing the uptake in cycling and walking as a travel option.

There were also updates on public rights of way, Bikeability training sessions and the Bike Drop project in Stroud, at the meeting chaired by District Councillor and Environment Committee Vice Chair Robin Drury-Layfield, on Friday, November 18.

“This event was about bringing our partners together to share local knowledge and understanding, to inspire and enthuse each other, and to drive forward our mission of “modal shift” – the move towards ending our dependency on fossil fuels, reducing our carbon emissions, whilst improving our air quality, and our mental and physical health,” he said after the meeting, on Friday, November 18.

SDC Environment Committee chair Chloe Turner added: “With partners, we have invested in upgrading the walking and cycle route between Nailsworth, Stroud and Stonehouse but much more needs to be done to support walking and cycling as a viable everyday alternative to car use. That is why supporting the development of an integrated active travel (walking and cycling) and public transport network in collaboration with county and regional partners is an objective of our Council Plan.

“We will only succeed in improving walking and cycling provision across the district if we work together as partners, which is why meetings like these are so important. We are grateful to everyone who supported this very engaging meeting.”

At the event, town and parish councils were asked what they could do for active travel and the top response was to improve safety by creating more routes, car-free roadways, maintaining routes, making crossings safer and enforcing 20mph speed limits.

The meeting was attended by two mums on their cargo bikes who wanted to raise awareness of the changing needs of cyclists as more switch to an active mode of transport, too.

Kiera Jones (pictured) said: “There are so many barriers to this healthy, low carbon form of transport: step-only access to cycle paths that are ankle-deep in mud, lack of segregated lanes and insufficient lighting to name but a handful.”

The council is also looking for a volunteer to become Stroud District Bicycle Mayor, to help advocate for cycling in the district, and help make cycling accessible to all as part of a global network of Bicycle Mayors. Applications close on 20 January – for more details visit https://bycs.org/.  Applications can be made at: https://tinyurl.com/stroud-bicycle-mayor

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