METRO Mayor Steve Rotheram today launched a major campaign urging people to ditch their cars for short journeys – for the sake of the planet and their health.
The newly re-elected Mayor called for a ‘revolution in the way people live their lives’ as he put walking and cycling on an equal footing with trains and buses.
The move is a key part of Mayor Rotheram’s election pledge to deliver a fully-integrated London-style Transport System serving the Liverpool City Region.
To encourage motorists to leave their cars at home, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is investing £30m in a 600km Active Travel network of cycle paths and walkways.
Reducing an over-reliance on cars is crucial to hitting the Liverpool City Region’s target of being carbon-neutral by 2040.
Carbon emissions would fall by 130,000 tons a year if every person in the Liverpool City Region swapped just two short car journeys a week for a bike ride or a walk. That’s the same amount of carbon produced each year by a population the size of Huyton.
Launching a joint campaign with the ECHO, Mayor Rotheram said, “A popular Scouse four-piece once sang ‘you say you want a revolution’ well ‘we’d all love to see the plan.’
“And, as our planet grapples with the existential threat climate change poses, we all need a plan, to help save it. Luckily in the Liverpool City Region, we do have a plan to capitalise on the Green Industrial Revolution.
“We were the first region in the country to declare a climate emergency in recognition of the scale of the challenge we face. We plan to be net-zero carbon a whole decade before national targets. And we have ambitious plans to harness the Mersey to create enough clean, predictable energy to power 1m homes, creating thousands of high-skilled and construction jobs in the process.
“My ambitious plans have just been overwhelmingly endorsed by the electorate in every part of our region. In giving me the largest personal mandate in the history of our region, they have put their faith in me the to deliver those radical changes we need to make sure we are the cleanest, greenest and fairest region in the country.
“But I can’t do it alone. In the spirit of that Beatles song, we all need to do what we can to change the world. That means making really easy everyday improvements to our lives that could have massive cumulative impact if we all do our bit.
“As Mayor, I am doing what I can to tackle air quality and climate change by, for example, buying emission-free hydrogen buses, helping the local environment through the Community Environment Fund and taking forward the Mersey Tidal Power scheme. And I don’t just talk the talk – I’ve given up my car and get around on public transport – I’m quite literally walking the walk. But we all need to do more and do it faster.
“We’ve been developing plans for a London-style transport system that will make it quick, cheap and easy to get around. What does that mean in practice? It means different modes of transport fit together seamlessly, whether people are jumping on the bus, train or bike to get around – with massive benefits not only to your bank account but the environment too.
“We’ve introduced much cleaner buses and super-green hydrogen buses are on the way, while we’re exploring ways to take greater control over how they are run.
“We’ve spent £500m on new publicly owned electric trains which open their doors at platform level, which will change the lives of wheelchair users, parents struggling with prams and people with mobility issues.
“And when it comes to active travel, I’m investing £30m in a 600km network of cycle paths and walkways across all six local authority areas – Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral – all linked to the wider transport network.
“It’s a good start. But real, lasting change will take time – and I need the help of everyone.
“Air pollution levels are already back to pre-pandemic levels and 800 people in our city region die each year with conditions linked to poor air quality.
“I can’t stand by and watch that happen. And nor should any of us.
“Today I’m launching a region-wide campaign to encourage as many people as possible to leave the car at home when they can. Too many people are still making short, quick journeys in the car out of habit.
“But we can start to break that habit by asking ourselves some really simple questions: can I walk to school or the shop? Is there another way to get to work? Do I need the car for every short journey? Isn’t it time I got back on my bike?
“For a lot of these questions the answer will be clear: the best vehicle for short journeys is YOU.
“During lockdown, tens of thousands of people took up active travel. Two-thirds say they expect to continue. We need to keep up this momentum, to grow this movement.
“It’s great to be joining forces with the Echo on this campaign – they have a fantastic record campaigning for our region and promoting public health.
“So – let’s get active. Let’s do it for our planet, do it for our kids and grandkids, and do it for ourselves.
“It’s your time to join the active travel revolution and, as that four-piece sang – ‘everything is going to be alright.’”
More than half of journeys in the Liverpool City Region are short, but most are taken by car – fuelling a rise in carbon emissions from transport.
During lockdown, tens of thousands of people joined an Active Travel revolution – with many finding it good for their physical and mental health. Two thirds said they expected to continue walking and cycling after lockdown.
The new campaign, under the slogan ‘The Best Vehicle For Short Journeys Is YOU’, will encourage the City Region’s 1.6m people – to walk, cycle, use a handbike or push a buggy for short journeys.
Naheed Tahir, 53 of Mossley Hill whose feet feature as part of the new campaign, said, “I really enjoy cycling – especially the confidence it has given me on the roads. It’s great to save so much time, avoid traffic jams and not to worry about parking my car. I can easily and safely pop to the shops, meet friends in the park and commute to work.
“It’s free, keeps me fit and has helped me discover places in my city I never knew existed. I’ve converted the whole family. I have even managed to get an adapted bike for my daughter who has mobility issues. Cycling really is something everyone should try.”
Next time you’re to travelling to work, taking the kids to school or meeting up with friends and family, think about whether the best vehicle for the journey might be you.
Image credit: Daria Obymaha