Open Country presents Sustrans with award for helping improve disabled access

Yorkshire-based charity Open Country has presented Sustrans’ North team with an award for its contribution to improving disabled access across Yorkshire.

Open Country’s Good Access Scheme award celebrates efforts to open up more accessible routes for walkers and cyclists.

Sustrans’ team in Yorkshire completed an extension of the cycle path from Thorp Arch to Newton Kyme creating a six-kilometre traffic-free route linking Wetherby and Newton Kyme. Its project on Route 69 of the National Cycle Network has also connected Castleford and Wakefield Greenway, providing cyclists and walkers with 16 kilometres of accessible paths.

Mike Babbitt, head of network development, and Rosslyn Colderley, director for England North, attended a virtual award ceremony hosted by members of Open Country’s Tandem Club who have benefited from Sustrans’ work.

“It was a real pleasure to receive this award from some of the people who use and enjoy our cycle network,” said Colderley. “We are very proud of what has been achieved already and are determined to continue our work with renewed enthusiasm because we can see the difference it is making to the lives of people with a disability.

“2020 has proven that access to outdoor spaces is crucial to people’s wellbeing and yet something as simple as a barrier or style could prevent young families and people who are older or disabled from getting to their local green spaces and from moving actively and sustainably around their neighbourhoods.

“We are committed to creating paths for everyone across the National Cycle Network to ensure no one feels excluded from accessing our routes and people can enjoy the outdoors safely.”

David Shaftoe, chief officer of Open Country, added: “We see a lot of positive developments in accessibility across Yorkshire, but Sustrans’ efforts stood out for going the extra mile to ensure its network of paths can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their ability. As well as their projects on specific parts of the Cycle Network they have also pledged to remove 16,000 barriers from its network across England – an incredible commitment to opening up access for all.

“Our five Tandem Clubs enjoy many of Sustrans’ National Cycle Network routes around Yorkshire on their weekly rides in the spring and summer. Volunteer ‘pilots’ enable our disabled back riders to enjoy the pleasures of riding a bike. Riding on some of the excellent cycle routes managed and maintained by Sustrans makes it a more pleasurable and safe experience for all our club members. They certainly appreciate the project to remove barriers on the routes which always cause a problem for tandems.

“We’re delighted to present them with this award and hope that it inspires other outdoor organisations to consider ways they can improve access for all visitors.”

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