Sustainable transport organisation Sustrans has scooped a top gong from Eurostar's Ashden Awards for its efforts to expand the cycling and walking network in the UK.
The winners were selected against two other finalists from the UK for their successful and innovative sustainable travel projects and Sustrans and Belgian transport provide De Lijn will now share £30,000 in prize money, which they can invest into expanding the reach of their schemes.
Sustrans was chosen as a winner for their five-year Connect2 programme, which extended the National Cycle Network into the heart of communities across the UK. Through the Connect2 programme Sustrans created 84 new cycling schemes in towns and cities nationwide, bringing over four million people to within a mile of a safer, greener transport route.
The Connect2 schemes overcame many of the major barriers to developing local cycling networks by providing bridges across roads, rivers and rail lines, which enabled direct and unbroken cycle networks to become a reality.
The new routes linking schools, hospitals and town centres to existing cycling routes focused on short essential journeys, which are often taken by car. Early results show that the Connect2 programme has more than trebled the number of cyclists on some routes, which is estimated to save over 70,000 tonnes CO2 emissions annually.
Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans chief executive commented; “We are delighted to be selected as winners for this prestigious award. Over the last five years Sustrans has helped millions of people get around by foot and bike by linking homes with schools, hospitals and town centres and making sure that good cycling and walking routes extend right into the heart of communities. We’ve worked closely with local people to deliver over 80 innovative projects including building bridges, creating traffic-free paths and extending the National Cycle Network. By providing a real alternative to driving, we’ve seen levels of walking and cycling increase by as much as 250 per cent, helping thousands to get healthy and cut pollution.”
Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive of Eurostar said; “Through the Connect2 programme, Sustrans has helped change the perception of cycling in the UK. We cannot underestimate these types of projects and their role in helping to reduce the environmental impact of travel. We hope that by celebrating their achievements we will inspire more people to consider the environment when making their own travel choices.”
The 2013 Eurostar Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel culminated on June 20th at the annual Ashden Awards ceremony in London. The Awards, now in their second year, recognise innovative travel schemes from across the UK, France and Belgium that encourage people to adopt more sustainable ways of travelling.