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Cycling is a way forward on our route to net zero emissions

Do you own a bike but leave it in the shed and drive to work instead? You are not alone; across Hertfordshire it is estimated that 43 per cent of adults own a bike but only 2 per cent of trips were made by bicycle.

Transport is the biggest source of greenhouse gases in Britain and emissions continue to grow. Bold changes are needed to help our town shift from motor vehicle use to cut emissions. Research by Stevenage Borough Council shows that 25 per cent of commuter journeys in the town could be by bike.

Stevenage was built as a new town with a remarkable cycleway network in excess of 25 miles; a legacy of Eric Claxton, the Stevenage Development Corporation’s Chief Engineer. This segregated network was designed for journeys to work with direct links between residential and employment areas. Surveys in the 1970s showed that over 4000 bikes were in daily use on the network at the time and no capacity issues were encountered.

Since then there has been a constant decline in commuting by bicycle nationwide and this has also been the case in Stevenage despite the cycleway network.

Cycling is one of the best ways for people to achieve good health and fitness. People who cycle regularly live longer than those who do not and lead healthier lives. Cycling regularly to work or school has been shown to be the most effective thing an individual can do to improve health and increase longevity, and this even applies to people who are already active in sport and other physical activities. Cyclists typically have a level of fitness equivalent to being 10 years younger.

As part of our strategy to get to net zero, Stevenage Borough Council will be supporting cycling by launching a bike hire scheme. To improve the secure storage of bikes across the town, at your school or workplace, we can also install lockable cycle hangars. Applications can be made on the council website. Ask if your employer offers the cycle to work scheme which can offer you a saving of 25-39 per cent on a new bike as a work benefit.

If you are new to cycling or keen to find support, Stevenage Cycling Hub at Fairlands Valley Park is ready to help you. The hub offers cycle training for all ages, regular guided rides of the local area, bike maintenance and repair, bike hire and can sell you a reconditioned bike if you need one.

Councillor John Gardner, Executive member for Environment and Regeneration said: “Stevenage benefits from an outstanding, purpose-built cycle infrastructure that connects you directly to many of the locations you need to travel to.

It is an ideal way to convert many of your day-to-day vehicle journeys by vehicle to help reduce our town’s emissions. Electric and cargo bikes mean that people can now carry greater loads and even passengers over distances that may have previously been done by car or vans. These are real alternatives to burning fossil fuels and adding to climate change.

With soaring fuel prices, cycling will also save you money, reduce air and noise pollution and keep you and your family active. Cycling is a win-win for you and for Stevenage’s work to get to Net Zero by 2030.”

The only way we as Stevenage can achieve the goal of getting to net zero emissions by 2030 is if everyone plays their part; it’s time to get that bike out again and start discovering the joy of regular journeys to replace motor vehicle use. It offers a real way forward to a greener future and a healthier you.