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Visitor car travel in the Lake District down by 14.5%

Posted by Richard Hammond at 12:27 on Wednesday 11 March 2015

Research released today reports that visitor car travel around the Lake District has decreased by estimated 7.8 million kilometres over the past 3 years.

Car journeys in the South and Central Lakes fell by an estimated 14.5%, or 7.8 million km (4.8 million miles), between 2011 and 2014 – the equivalent of more than 8,100 return road trips between Penrith and London. At the same time, there was a 2% increase in visitor days and a 7% increase in visitor spend. Carbon emissions from visitor travel has fallen by an estimated 41,750 tonnes over the same period.

Cyclists on the new Langdale trail in the Lake District. Photo: Stewart SmithCyclists on the new Langdale trail in the Lake District. Photo: Stewart SmithThe figures are being unveiled at the showcase ‘TravelEdge’ event in Penrith today where attendees are hearing about the wide-ranging work being done by the £6.9 million GoLakes Travel programme "to make the Lake District one of the UK’s cutting edge areas for greener travel". GoLakes Travel draws to a close at the end of this month and evolves into a new one-year phase of work called ‘See More: Cumbria and the Lake District’ programme, extending into the wider Cumbria area.

Funded predominately by the Department for Transport, GoLakes Travel was set up in 2011 as a pilot programme, bringing together a partnership between Cumbria County Council, the Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria Tourism. One of its key objectives was to generate a step-change in how the Lake District’s 20 million annual visitors travel to and around the region, encouraging them to make fewer car journeys and save 11,000 tonnes in CO2 by 2015.

The seasonal bike boat service on Lake Windermere has been one of the key achievements of the GoLakes programme. Photo © Cumbria TourismThe seasonal bike boat service on Lake Windermere has been one of the key achievements of the GoLakes programme. Photo © Cumbria TourismTwo detailed travel surveys reveal significant changes in visitor travel behaviour between 2011 and 2014, with an estimated 41,750 ton reduction in CO2 emissions and a reduction of 7.8 million km in visitor mileage. Although it is not possible to prove that this shift is fully attributable to GoLakes Travel, the trend does cover the same time period and co-incides with a range of activities to encourage more people to use cleaner, greener ways to get around.

Some of the key achievements include:

  • Investment in two new jetties for Windermere. With the Bark Barn jetty already in operation, a second new facility will be officially unveiled at YMCA Lakeside this Easter. Both have been designed to accommodate private boat users and passenger-carrying vessels.
  • Pay-as-you-drive low emission vehicles at Oxenholme and Windermere Railway Stations, as well as Coniston, Ambleside and Staveley. There is also a fleet of five ‘Twizy’ electric cars at various locations, in partnership with Co-Wheels.
  • A seasonal ‘bike boat’ service, in conjunction with Windermere Lake Cruises.
  • 81 free guided ‘Sky Ride Local’ bike rides, run in partnership with British Cycling and involving 764 participants. 30 Sky Rides are also planned for 2015.
  • By the summer of 2015, there will be 50 miles of interconnected family-friendly and predominately off-road cycling routes. This includes trails linking the Langdale Valley, Ambleside, Windermere’s western shore and Grasmere.
  • Support for extensions to summer bus services, such as evening services for the Coniston and Langdale Ramblers, and an extension to the ‘Cross Lakes Experience’.
  • With new Windermere Ferry signage to come, improved car park directional signage and information boards, alongside the ‘Park with Ease’ system, visitors that do arrive by car are being encouraged to stay longer and explore in more sustainable ways.

To help reinforce and extend the work done by GoLakes Travel beyond the boundaries of the Lake District National Park, the new ‘See More’ programme will take on the sustainable travel baton from the beginning of April. Funded with a further £1million from the Department for Transport, it is expected to unlock a further £2 million private investment into the county’s transport network.

‘See More’ will focus on four visitor gateways:

  1. Carlisle to Hadrian’s Wall
  2. Penrith into the Ullswater valley
  3. Keswick into Borrowdale
  4. The south eastern approaches into the central Lake District.

Richard Greenwood, Head of Operations at Cumbria Tourism, said: “Positive progress has been made in cutting carbon emissions, and there are some real indications that people are considering different ways to travel to and around the Lake District. We’ve seen that convenience is one of the key motivations for people’s choice of transport, but creating ‘an experience’ which allows them to immerse themselves in our stunning landscape is also an important factor. A key aspect of GoLakes Travel has been the partnership working with the private sector, prompting the introduction of additional services and new facilities which encourage people to leave their cars at home. We’re looking forward to this work being expanded further across Cumbria through the new ‘See More’ programme, building on the lessons learnt through GoLakes Travel.”

Steve Ratcliffe, Director of Sustainable Development at the Lake District National Park Authority, said: “GoLakes Travel has been successful on so many fronts proving that, with the right sustainable transport framework in place, our visitors don’t feel the need to use the car. Travelling by sustainable transport around the central Lake District, by boat, bike or bus, is now possible and adds to our visitors’ memorable experiences. This project has succeeded due to the commitment of all partners, public and private and clearly demonstrates what can be achieved through partnership working. I look forward to seeing this project being rolled out to other parts of the Lake District and Cumbria through the ‘See More’ partnership.”

>> For where to stay, eat, shop and visit in the Lake District, see:
Greentraveller's Guide to the Lake District National Park

Posted by Richard Hammond

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