Transition Town Letchworth: ‘Our town has highest reliance on car journeys for the school run’

PUBLISHED: 12:23 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:29 05 March 2020

The turning circle at the entrance to Highfield School in Letchworth at the end of a school day. Picture: TTL

The turning circle at the entrance to Highfield School in Letchworth at the end of a school day. Picture: TTL

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In a new monthly eco column, Julia Sonander, from environmental group Transition Town Letchworth, highlights some of the small ways residents can cut down on car emissions amid the ongoing climate crisis.

"The North Central Hertfordshire Growth and Transport plan has identified improvements for car users as a lesser priority than walking, cycling and public transport. Herts County Council are supporting local residents to switch to more sustainable transport.

"This month we are sharing some ideas on how each of us can follow the council's lead and start to reduce our reliance on the car.

"Shorter journeys - those of a mile or less - are the easiest to make small changes. If you can just plan a little more time for these journeys they can often be made on foot. For slightly longer regular trips, why not shorten the car journey by stopping early and walking the last leg? For trips with busy final destinations, this will bring an additional benefit of reducing the stress and cost of parking.

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"Letchworth is the North Hertfordshire town with the highest reliance on the car for the school run - with 31 per cent of journeys made by car. If parents and carers can walk some or all of the way to school, this can also alleviate congestion around school gates and make it a safer environment for children.

"We have all heard the messages that walking or cycling can improve our health and fitness levels, but don't forget, using the car a bit less is good for the budget as well. If you are keeping a car just as a little runabout you may eventually decide it's not worth it, and would be financially better off using a taxi on the odd occasion when it's not possible to use sustainable transport.

"Peter Willcox, who is our chair at Transition Town Letchworth, is leading from the front. 'If you look, it's amazing how many places you can actually get to on public transport,' Peter tells me.

"'If a journey is too far to walk and public transport proves too problematic, I work hard to find someone with whom to share transport. The result of decades of limited car use has made me think carefully about each trip, sometimes even concluding that I don't need to make it at all.'

"You can join us at Transition Town Letchworth on Tuesday, March 10, at Mrs Howard Memorial Hall, where the county council's transport team will present and discuss the North Central Growth and Transport Plan."

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