How's this for an example of transport changing people's lives? In Derby, a survey of job seekers showed that over half felt transport was a barrier to getting back to work – so a Bike It project was set up. The charity Life Cycle collects donated bikes, then works with offenders at Stocken prison to repair and refurbish them, providing the offenders with vocational skills. The bikes are then sold or loaned at a low cost to job seekers who also receive cycle training. Six hundred and fifty job seekers have been involved with the project in total.
This excellent project was made possible by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF). After sustained campaigning by us and others, the Government created the LSTF in 2011. To date it has handed out £600 million to local green transport projects – and (as the LSTF's most recent annual report shows) the effects are really beginning to be felt.
The LSTF has now delivered:
- 246 new or improved bus services
- 1,182km of new or improved routes for cyclists and pedestrians
- 207 train stations have been upgraded
- 36,313 job seekers have been given travel advice and support
The picture to the right shows a group called Dorset FIZZ in action. With funding from the LSTF, Dorset FIZZ organises walking, cycling and public transport outings for families (particularly young and single parents) and others, as well as bike maintenance workshops. Many participants who once lacked the confidence to get out and about are now able to reach new activities by walking, cycling and public transport.
The picture to the left shows children walking to school in Hertfordshire. The LSTF has helped Living Streets to increase walking levels in over 1,000 schools. Children, teachers and parents helped to identify barriers to walking, such as unsafe stretches of road. Many new footpaths, cycle routes and wider pavements were built as a result. Living Streets then worked with schools to encourage more families to walk, for instance through the 'Walk once a Week' scheme which has been proven to increase walking to school by up to 32%.
The LSTF is one of our proudest campaign successes, and it's fantastic to see the effect that it's having. These stories show that big, headline-grabbing infrastructure projects are all very well, but often it's small and relatively cheap measures that make the biggest difference to communities. We'll continue to press for the LSTF to be extended and expanded.
Photos courtesy of Dorset Fizz (funded by DCC and Weymouth and Portland BC) and Living Streets.