CYCLING in Darlington is on the increase as investment in infrastructure is getting people out of their cars.

A new study has shown that the town has achieved the highest increases in trips by bike out of a programme including six towns and cities in England, which received investment to encourage cycling for shorter urban journeys.

Published by Sustrans, walking and cycling charity, the study has identified the government-funded programme led to an increase in the number of trips by bike to 59 per cent in Darlington, compared to an average of 29 per cent in five years.

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Rosslyn Colderley, Sustrans director for the North of England said: “The evidence of the study is clear – increasing levels of cycling in our towns and cities is very much possible.

“The growth in cycle trips in the participating towns and cities reflects the fact that investment comparable to that spent in Denmark and the Netherlands stimulates changes in levels of cycling. The study also indicates sustained long-term commitment to investment in cycling is key to growing cycle use.

“We can confidently say the results of the programmes are replicable in urban areas across the UK. If we want to build on this success, we need strong leadership and long-term commitment from both national and local governments.”

And Cllr Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure, the local environment and transport, has welcomed the findings.

He said: “The Cycling Demonstration Town scheme was a big shot in the arm for cycling in Darlington. The fact that growth here was equal to that anywhere else in the country is telling.

“Since then, we have continued to invest in cycling, and the recently-completed John Street scheme which links Harrowgate Hill and Haughton to the town centre is a good example.

“If the Government is serious about promoting cycling in the UK, however, it has to put its money where its mouth is, and sustain investment both for road schemes but also measures that promote cycling among school children. The ball is in the Government’s court.”

The Council has worked with the Tees Valley Combined Authority to successfully bid for Department for Transport Access Fund monies to continue to support cycling to work and school as well as to help people get more active.

The funding helps to support Bike Stop in Skinnergate which provides not only recycled bikes for sale, but also maintenance courses and rides led by qualified staff.

To read the full study go to www.sustrans.org.uk/cycling-programmes and search for Darlington.