Sustrans working to increase active travel in Colleges

Rachel Manning, Education Officer at Sustrans (an active travel charity) tells us about the work they have been doing with colleges in Devon.

"Sustrans has been working with schools and colleges across Devon over the last academic year. Working in partnership with Devon County Council, Sustrans has been working with young people to increase active travel on the school commute.

"Petroc College in North Devon has been working particularly close with Sustrans to increase levels of active travel in the students. Situated on top of a hill Petroc may not be the most ideal location to encourage students to walk or cycle to college.

"An initial consultation session with students across the college highlighted the hill as a clear barrier to active travel. Students also stated that another main barrier to active travel was confidence. Many students felt they lacked the confidence on a bike to cycle on roads or didn’t feel fit enough to choose an active travel option to get to college. These are issues that frequently arise amongst young people and a good starting point for the beginnings of an active travel campaign in Petroc.

"A key part in engaging young people with any sort of campaign is making it personal to them and allowing them to take ownership. The work with Petroc perfectly reflected this as students from FdSc Sport and Fitness took ownership of the campaign as part of their studies.

"Sustrans delivered sessions to the students about running a college wide campaign and how to approach it and supported them with training and advice during the campaign. The students were also provided with training in safely running led rides on roads as well as Bikeability. Following on from this the students then designed and delivered their campaign across the college. The campaign began with the students delivering talks to tutor groups across the college aiming to educate and inspire students about the benefits of active travel.

"The FdSc students designed a cycling route following cycle paths easily accessible from college and offered tutors the opportunity to sign their students up to go on a led ride educating students about cycling in the local area. The students successfully delivered the campaign across the college and managed to have a cycle loan scheme implemented for lecturers to loan bikes from the college to use during lessons. Petroc has seen an increase in interest in cycling with Bikeability also now beginning to be delivered regularly to students across the college.

"By working closely with students Sustrans ensured they were gaining skills to successfully run similar events themselves in the future. By starting with a small group of students to address a key message a cycling culture has begun to grow across the college with more importance being placed on the benefits that cycling and active travel can bring to young people."

Sustrans is the charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle. They connect people and places, create liveable neighbourhoods, transform the school run and deliver a happier, healthier commute.

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