Children and adults in South Yorkshire are set to benefit from active travel improvements including new cycle training, e-bike loans and walking groups for people with disabilities.
Sheffield City Region will receive an extra £2.5million from the Government to spend on walking and cycling in the coming financial year. This announcement comes after the news that 400,000 extra children across the UK will be taught how to ride a bike each year under the Bikeability training scheme.
In Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham, the towns’ Active Travel Hubs, which provide bike loans, free bike maintenance and repair, and information for walkers and cyclists, will continue to operate and expand their offers for walkers.
And in Sheffield, free cycle training will be offered to people of all ages, alongside free bike loans, including maintenance and repair. Travel training will also be provided for adults with learning disabilities to empower them to travel independently.
As well as the offer of free bike training from the Government, children across South Yorkshire will continue to benefit from the Modeshift STARS School programme, which promotes walking and cycling in schools by encouraging schools to support children in making active travel choices.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “There are some fantastic active travel programmes across South Yorkshire and this money will secure their future. Thousands of children and adults will now be able to get on their bikes or walk more, which has benefits for both physical and mental health, as well as improving air quality.
“But there is still more to be done. We need more investment in genuinely safe cycling infrastructure, to enable children and adults to feel confident when on our roads. We are in the midst of a climate crisis, investment in walking and cycling is vital in removing polluting vehicles off the roads, especially in our towns and cities.”
Funding has also been secured to pay for the continuation of the Living Streets project. The organisation, which aims to build a better walking environment and encourage people to walk more, is already supporting 20 schools across South Yorkshire. The extra money will help them support a further 20 schools in encouraging pupils to walk, cycle or scoot to school.
Jarvis appointed Dame Sarah Storey as his active travel commissioner in April 2019. Storey said: “More people are now aware of the need to commit to more sustainable travel habits and are asking for suitable infrastructure so they can leave their car at home and walk and cycle the short journeys.
“By teaching children to ride a bike from a young age, and providing the infrastructure for them to cycle safely, we are encouraging healthy habits, reducing the risk of childhood obesity and inactivity in adulthood. The Government still needs to invest in infrastructure, without safe routes for cycling, people will still choose to drive, even for short journeys. It is vital we work to reduce the number of vehicles making short journeys so we can positively impact congestion and improve air quality
“My vision for South Yorkshire’s 2040 Active Travel Network will require billions of pounds of investment in our region, I hope the announcement is an indication that our Government is willing to invest in cycling and walking.”
The Sheffield City Region has submitted a £220 million Transforming Cities bid to Government, half of which is earmarked for walking and cycling schemes, which will form the first part of the 2040 Active Travel Network once complete. Jarvis and Storey will reveal their vision for South Yorkshire’s 2040 Active Travel Network later this year.