East of England needs to continue to embrace active travel, conference hears

The East of England needs to embrace active travel to help it emerge from the pandemic, a conference has heard.

This was the message highlighted at this week’s annual Transport East conference, which was held online, and opened by Transport Minister Baroness Vere.

Ms Vere said it was important that as the country emerged from from lockdown there was ‘considerable’ work to encourage people to return to rail and buses – to boost confidence in the safety of public transport.

She said: “As a government we want to build better after this and transport is at the heart of that,” reports the Eastern Daily Press.

Also speaking at the conference was former Olympian Dame Sarah Storey who said encouraging active transport was vital for the future – as well as improving the environment it also helped to create a more healthy society.

And while she accepted that electric vehicles were better for the environment than petrol or diesel-powered cars and vans, they still took the same amount of space on the road and people needed to be encouraged to use more active ways of travel, said the report.

Some delegates were concerned that many of the solutions being discussed were focused on urban areas while much of the East of England was rural – and in those areas people would also feel the need to drive or use public transport.

But Dame Sarah said that in other countries electric cycles were used for longer journeys than standard bikes – in Denmark it was common for people to use electric cycles for journeys of up to nine miles.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter chaired a session with discussions on improvements that needed to made to the region’s transport network, and said Transport East had a vital role in pushing projects in the future.

He said: “While many strategic schemes are very important in themselves, they are also absolutely vital to the future prosperity of the whole region so we need to promote them with a clear single voice which is what can be done with Transport East.”

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