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Council celebrates success of walking and cycling accreditation scheme

February 16, 2021 5:49 PM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

SustransSince October 2020, Bedford Borough Council have been working alongside their partners, Sustrans, to increase the number of active travel initiatives in the Borough and the amount of people who are taking part in them.

To help achieve this, the Council are now working with schools and businesses in Bedford Borough to support them to get accredited through Modeshift STARS, a scheme recognising organisations that have shown excellence in supporting cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable and active travel.

Since introducing the initiative, six schools have received Bronze accreditation, with 13 schools set to achieve either Bronze or Silver accreditation by the end of the academic year in July. One school, Shortstown Primary, has received Gold accreditation for their work to reduce car use and encourage active modes of travelling. To support schools, the Council is providing free resource packages to schools seeking accreditation, which include lesson plans, newsletter templates and worksheets.

Sustrans have also been working with several businesses in Bedford Borough to help them receive the Modeshift STARS accreditation, including Bedford Hospital, Bedford Train Station, Royal Mail and The University of Bedfordshire. During the first lockdown and over summer, Sustrans were donating and delivering bicycles to frontline workers at Bedford Hospital so they can cycle to work.

In December, retailer Next joined the scheme in Bedford Borough to get more of their staff walking and using public transport to and from work. Next have received accreditation for nine sites across the UK and continue to promote sustainable and active travel to their workforce.

The Council has funded these schemes through the Access Fund, a grant that is provided by the Department for Transport, which was applied for in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Council and Luton Borough Council.

Councillor Charles Royden, Portfolio Holder for Environment, said: "The Modeshift STARS scheme has been an excellent way to work with schools and businesses to introduce a greater number of active travel initiatives for people of all ages. It has been a huge success and we hope that by providing more opportunities for active travel, people will be willing to swap the car for a more environmentally friendly mode of transport. We will continue to work with schools and businesses to encourage residents to travel actively around the Borough, helping reduce congestion and improve air quality for all."

Gail Whitehouse, School Travel Plan Champion at Shortstown Primary School, said: "Children are the future; we at Shortstown Primary School encourage them to travel with the smallest impact possible on the environment."

If you represent a business or school that would like to be accredited through Modeshift STARS or promote active travel initiatives in Bedford Borough, you can contact sustainable.transport@bedford.gov.uk for more information.