Support grows for Devon Car Free Day

SUPPORT is growing for Devon Car Free Day on Monday 22 September with more organisations lending their backing than ever before.

SUPPORT is growing for Devon Car Free Day on Monday 22 September with more organisations lending their backing than ever before.

Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council and Torbay Council are working in partnership on the event for the first time and dozens of local businesses and organisations have already registered to take part.

Among those encouraging staff to participate are Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue, Devon Primary Care Trust, South West Water, Met Office, Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Torbay Hospital and the Environment Agency.

Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "It's encouraging to see so many major employers backing Devon Car Free Day. We all very much appreciate those who come up with creative ideas, and while this annual event not only attracts people who want to have fun, we are seeing that it can act as a stepping stone for those seriously considering using their car less. Whether it's to improve their health, save money, reduce their carbon footprint or all of those reasons, people are finding that this is the perfect way to make a long term lifestyle change."

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Teignbridge District Council, Newton Abbot Town Council and Newton Abbot Transition Town are also working in partnership with Devon County Council to offer a variety of activities in support of sustainable transport, with entertainment, free breakfasts and free bicycle security checks on offer at Bank Street, Newton Abbot.

Councillor Gordon Hook, Devon County Councillor for Newton Abbot South, said: "There are lots of good reasons to try and go car free for one day, not least it will save money. It is also a positive action in the fight against climate change and air pollution. People die prematurely every year of respiratory illnesses that are made worse by air pollution."

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Prizes of £50 vouchers are again being offered as an incentive for people to enter one of four categories: best team effort, the most creative way of getting to work, the furthest distance travelled to work by green transport and the regular green traveller award.

Alan Johnson, from Torridge District Council, is one of those who has entered the regular green traveller category. He said: "I travel 10.3 miles each working day in all weathers - from Barnstaple to Bideford along the Tarka Trail. I even sold my car at the beginning of the year and now travel by bike, but use public transport for anything over 10 miles."

Robert Harwood, who works for the Environment Agency, has been a stalwart supporter of the creative ways of getting to work category on Devon Car Free Day. In the past years he has used a wheel barrow and wheelie bin to push colleagues for two miles to the Exminster offices. This year he is using a supermarket shopping trolley which the Environment Agency has recovered from a river.

Mark Stott from Paignton has entered the categories for regular green traveller and furthest distance travelled by green transport. He said: "For the past two years I have travelled to work every day by bicycle and train, from Paignton to Police Headquarters at Middlemoor in Exeter. I cycle from Paignton to Newton Abbot and from Exeter St. Davids to Force HQ. This minimises my carbon footprint as much as possible."

Devon County Council employee Julia Mullin is a regular green traveller, walking a mile and a quarter to work each day. This year she is going to support Devon Car Free Day day by roller blading to work, despite facing the prospect of tackling a steep hill.

Commuters to Sowton who leave their cars at home on 22 September are being offered free tea/coffee and toast by new café Fresha, on Bittern Road. (Bus/train ticket or bike may be required as proof). It will also award a £25 Fresha voucher to the person who travels the most creatively to the café on that day.

Dartmoor National Park Authority is also offering its 150 staff and members a free breakfast and is providing prizes for those who have travelled the furthest on public transport, on foot and by bicycle. Those who travel to work alone will be asked to make a donation to Devon based Woodland charity Moor Trees. Devon County Council's Cycle Exeter staff have also launched a competition, challenging firms in the city to encourage their employees to cycle to work on 22 September, and prizes are being offered to the most successful companies.

Every company which encourages and supports its staff to take part in Devon Car Free Day will be entered into a draw for a prize of £1,000 to be spent on green travel initiatives for staff such as cycle storage, pool bikes, or bus vouchers.

Commuters wishing to enter one of the four categories should email or write to TravelWise Officer, Lucombe House, County Hall, Exeter EX2 4QW

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