A new strategy aimed at getting more Barnsley people to make journeys on foot or using bicycles could take many more commuters out of cars and see most primary school pupils making healthy trips to and from home, if it succeeds.
The Barnsley Active Travel Strategy has now been adopted by the council’s ruling Cabinet and has target dates of 2033, but will be re-examined in 2024.
It has ambitious targets, including that 85 per cent of primary school pupils should travel to or from school by ‘active’ means rather than car. At present, the figure is 59 per cent, with a target to double the number of secondary school pupils doing the same, from today’s rate of 31 per cent to 65 per cent within 14 years.
The same principle applies to commuters, with a target of getting half of those making relatively short journeys to and from work to do on foot or on a bicycle by the same date.
Councillors were told in a report that active travel would be increasingly important in future because the borough is to get 21,000 new homes, because of increasing concern about weight and health and because Dan Jarvis, the Sheffield City Region Mayor and Barnsley Central MP is to appoint an active travel commissioner to work with councils to promote cycling and walking.
Councillors were told: “The vision of this Strategy is to “create a borough where active travel is a preferred choice, supported by a connected network of high quality, safe and inviting cycle routes and footpaths for all people to use. “Achieving this vision, will assist the Barnsley economy to grow and promote social inclusion whilst mitigating potential increases in congestion and air pollution, tackle poor health outcomes and inequalities and integrate with and complement other sustainable forms of public transport.”
The council’s chief executive, Diana Terris, told councillors: “This is a terrific strategy. I think in the future it will be coming up the agenda even more.”