People across Leeds are being asked to make one small change to a weekly journey by leaving the car at home and choosing to walk, cycle, or use the bus instead.
A new Walk it Ride it campaign has launched which aims to get people walking and cycling by encouraging them to choose healthier, greener ways to travel.
Leeds City Council has partnered with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and local bus companies to design and deliver the new Connecting Leeds campaign.
The campaign will share individual stories of how people can get around without jumping into a car – whether that’s by wheeling, walking, running or even pushing a buggy. It will run throughout the summer as part of a long-term push to keep more people walking and cycling as lockdown eases and beyond. Stories and messages targeted at encouraging more people to use the bus will be shared later in the campaign. These stories with resource links for walking and cycling are available to view and download from www.walkitrideit.com.
It comes as traffic data shows car usage in Leeds has already returned to near pre-pandemic levels over the weekends – although it’s still more than 30 per cent down during weekday peak hours compared to pre-pandemic levels. Nearly six in ten journeys travelled by residents are under five miles and most trips are taken by car, despite often being within a comfortable walking or cycling distance for most people. The current general trends show a quicker return to areas like retail, tourism, day trips, and hospitality, rather than in trips for work journeys.
Millions of pounds is being invested in a number of programmes to help people travel greener and actively with confidence including priority bus corridors and new cycling and walking routes.
By walking or riding a bike for some trips can also help individuals save money, improve their physical and mental health, and improve air quality.
The council recently consulted on an ambitious new transport strategy with a vision to make Leeds ‘a city where you don’t need to use a car’. The Connecting Leeds transport strategy has set ambitious targets to increase uptake of cycling, walking, rail and bus journeys. Tackling the over-reliance on cars is seen as crucial to achieving Leeds’ goal of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030 and addressing the climate.
Leeds City Council executive board member for infrastructure and climate, councillor Helen Hayden, said:
“Over the last year the way many people have travelled has changed. Rather than just jumping in a car, people have walked to the local park, cycled to the shops or gone for a run to get out of the house. As we move out of covid-19 restrictions it’s so important that we keep these positive changes going.
“There are so many benefits to leaving a car at home and walking or cycling. It’s good for our health, it’s good for our air, cuts congestion and makes our streets and road safer for everybody.
“Walk it Ride it is part of a collective city-wide movement towards healthier, greener travel in Leeds. We want to inspire, and help others inspire, more people to consider walking or cycling for those shorter trips such as the school run, local shopping, visiting the park and eventually to and from work. We want to hear your stories and share them to help give people the confidence to make this change themselves. Every action counts, even if its feels small to you. Those small changes add up to make a big differences to our lives and the city we live in.”
Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracey Brabin said:
“Making it easier for people to walk and cycle more, as well as travel on public transport, has never been more important to help us reach our goals to reduce carbon, improve air quality and have a positive impact on people’s health across West Yorkshire.”
“As Mayor, I am pleased to support this new campaign, which shows the real difference we can all make as part of our daily routine, making us healthier, happier and being part of the change needed in West Yorkshire to tackle the climate emergency and protect our environment.”
Chapel Allerton School head teacher, Nicholas Sykes, said:
“Whether you walk, run, scoot or ride it is great to make an active start to your day with fresh air and exercise laying the platform for the school day. Personally, I cycle most days and encourage our school community to make active and healthy travel choices so we all contribute to creating a healthier environment.”