CAR journeys in Darlington have dropped by nine per cent since the start of a project to get residents using environmentally-friendly transport.

Journeys made on foot have increased by 15 per cent since Darlington Borough Council's Local Motion scheme began, preliminary figures have also indicated.

The report, which was unveiled at a cycling symposium held at Bondgate Methodist Church and organised by Darlington Cycling Campaign Group, was compiled by transport expert Werner Brog.

Between 2004 and last year, the proportion of journeys in Darlington made on foot rose from 25 per cent to 29 per cent, while the proportion of journeys made by car dropped from 41 to 37 per cent

The proportion of journeys made by bicycle rose by two-thirds, from less than one per cent to two per cent of the total.

During the same period, the share of journeys made by public transport remained at a steady 12 per cent, more than one in ten people.

According to council figures, the drop in car journeys equates to stopping 7,333 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, the amount of carbon dioxide put out by 1,300 households over a year.

Mr Brog said: "A nine per cent drop in car journeys is really good.

"I was surprised by this high change in walking. This is really high."

Councillor Nick Wallis, the council's cabinet member for highways and transport, said the council had used a combination of hard measures, including alterations to the physical make up of roads, and soft measures , making residents aware of alternatives to the car.

He said that council work had already included creating cycle tracks and making improvements to McMullen Road and Yarm Road.

Work was also being carried out in Victoria Road and Russell Street to allow people to cycle in the town centre without having to use the ring road.

He said: "I'd say it has been one of our biggest achievements, but I would also say there is a lot more that needs to be done in the next few years."

Coun Wallis said the council would be aiming to change people's attitudes towards cyclists and cycling.

Part of this would be encouraging youngsters to cycle and teaching them safety through schemes at schools.

He said people often over-estimated the time needed to make a journey by an alternative method and under-estimated the time of the same journey by car, something the campaign hoped to change.

He said: "It is not about ramming cycling down people's throats. We are saying that, for certain journeys, cycling and walking are the best ways."