Whitby & Esk Valley Active Travel promote a healthy, greener life

Active Travel (walking, wheeling, cycling, scooting etc) has many benefits. In terms of physical health it reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and much more. It provides a level of core fitness, and it promotes mental well-being.

The conversion of many short trips from car to active travel has been costed as being able to save the NHS £17bn over 20 years, and once this becomes a habit the savings increase further. The consequential reduction in car journeys would mean less pollution, CO2, and noise (and less traffic for those who do need to use a vehicle). Using active travel to get to/from school has proven benefits to attainment also. Finally it results in more social contact and better sense of community. What is not to like?

How are we doing?

Current activity levels in Whitby and District are around national average for walking, but amongst the lowest in the county / country for cycling. Analysing why this is the case, we have paths near roads that are not pedestrian friendly. The risk perception near to roads is putting people off, and there are barriers to entry to some paths, particularly for the disabled. For cycling we have a single cycle path, just 2.5km in the Whitby urban area with poor access and no plan for any improvements; contrast that with Scarborough which has 18km in the urban area and not just a plan but also funding for implementing it. Cycle to school is not part of the school Travel Plan for much of our district as a consequence of the poor infrastructure and risk perception.

A Plan for the future?

Some hope is in sight, with development of a Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) currently starting. This will involve community engagement, and it is hoped to complete by August/September this year, resulting in a document defining what routes are needed. Thereafter funding will be needed to implement it.

Current investment in active travel in London is around £24/person/year and has been maintained over several years so much so that there are more people cycling in central London than in vehicles. North Yorkshire is currently lagging far behind at just £2.69/person/year, with Whitby and District below that.

Playing our part

We need to do better and, with a view to assisting North Yorkshire Council, we have registered a charity, Whitby & Esk Valley Active Travel, to facilitate the development of active travel infrastructure in Whitby and District, as well as to promote more people taking part to benefit from the amazing groups who organise walking and cycling in the area. We are 4 residents with different skill sets but a common goal, getting more uptake of active travel in this area. We have a website (https://www.whitbyactivetravel.org.uk) and social media, so please follow and share. Our initial priorities are providing access for all to existing paths, and to assist in kids being able to walk/cycle/scoot to school. Please let us know what you think, and get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

Barriers To Access Survey

One of our first tasks is a survey, in conjunction with Whitby DAG, about “Barriers To Access” for paths, trails and rights-of-way, basically anything that stops people getting on a path. Please follow this link: www.whitbyactivetravel.org.uk/path-access/ Please complete it for each location that you are aware of, and share it with friends. We will use the results to define where barriers need removing.

We hope to have much more to report in the coming months and years.

Calling all local community heroes and charitable champions!

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Whether you’re organising events, providing vital services, making a positive impact or looking for volunteers, we want to hear from you! Submit an article to highlight your achievements, upcoming projects, or heartwarming stories.

Together, let’s strengthen our community bonds and celebrate the unsung heroes among us. Send your articles to info@whitbyadvertiser.co.uk and let Whitby shine with your tales of community spirit!