West Yorkshire Combined Authority gets behind World Car Free Day

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is calling on people to consider leaving their cars at home for World Car Free Day.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is calling on people to consider leaving their cars at home for World Car Free Day tomorrow (Tuesday 22 September) as the region looks towards a less car reliant future.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said:

“Two-thirds of journeys made by West Yorkshire residents are under five miles, which takes about 30 minutes by bike and walking one mile takes about 20 minutes.

“Our latest research into the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having on work and travel patterns indicates a growing number of people are looking to use their cars to travel in and out of city centres over the coming weeks.

“World Car Free Day is an opportunity for us all to think about how we travel and whether we are choosing the best option for our trips.

“Making walking and cycling a natural choice for short, everyday journeys is more important than ever, not only as we look to address the health, transport and economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also in helping us achieve our aim of becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2038.”

Providing an accessible, affordable and attractive alternative to car journeys is at the heart of Leeds City Region’s £317 million Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) - a major new programme of transport infrastructure investment secured as part of the West Yorkshire devolution deal announced in March. 

In partnership with local authorities, the Combined Authority will use the funding to deliver transformational infrastructure, which will help create a step change in travel by dramatically improving access to walking, cycling and public transport.

It is estimated that TCF schemes will improve journeys by bus, rail, bike and on foot for up to 1.5 million people, take up to 12 million car trips per year off our roads and reduce CO2 emissions from car travel by up to 15,000 tonnes by 2036. 

Communities across Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York are set to benefit from the schemes, which include new or improved bus and rail stations, new cycling and walking infrastructure, and new Park and Rides.

Cllr Groves said:

“We want to reduce car journeys across West Yorkshire by 3.5% by 2027 and our Transforming Cities Fund schemes will build on the significant investment we’ve already made to help us achieve this.

“With Public Health England estimating 1 in 20 deaths in West Yorkshire are attributable to air pollution, the case for making more trips on foot, by bike and by public transport has never been stronger.

“From connecting people to economic and education opportunities, to reducing congestion, and improving our physical and mental health, enabling more us to travel on foot, by bike and by public transport has a vital role to play in making Leeds City Region a great place to live, work and play.”

The TCF programme will build on the successes of the Combined Authority’s other programmes, such as CityConnect, which has overseen more than £60m in investment in cycling and walking schemes across the region since 2014.

In partnership with others, the Combined Authority is not only building new cycling and walking routes and improving existing infrastructure, it is also helping people change the way they travel through a series of initiatives, including free adult cycle training, as well as support for businesses, schools and grassroots initiatives.

Businesses cases are also being developed to unlock a further £12 million from the Local Growth Fund to deliver cycling and walking schemes, and an estimated £69 million will be spent on walking and cycling improvements within the Combined Authority’s wider delivery programme up to March 2021.

In addition to this, the Combined Authority is also working in partnership with local authorities to deliver a package of measures, including trial cycling and walking infrastructure, to help people move around the region safely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes both short and longer-term proposals, which have been submitted to Government to access £12.5 million funding for West Yorkshire through the Emergency Active Travel Fund.

Woman on bike
Fuzzy Jones on the Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway at Armley

Concerns over climate change and its impact, not just on the physical world we live in but what it all means for how we go about our daily lives both now and in the future, have moved up the agenda in recent times.  The question on many people’s lips?  “What difference can I make?” 

With two thirds of journeys made by West Yorkshire residents under five miles and Public Health England estimating 1 in 20 deaths in our region are attributable to air pollution, the case for making more journeys by bike and on foot has never been stronger.

Before the lockdown, the Combined Authority's CityConnect team caught up with Fuzzy Jones, an award-winning musician, activist and artist living in Bramley, to hear how her passion for the environment, combined with having the Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway on her doorstep, has helped her ditch four wheels for two come rain or shine.