Hello and welcome to our new series of blogs focused on Active Travel! To find all of our posts in the future, take a look here on our redesigned smarter travel section. You will also find updated information on all our services relating to smart, sustainable journeys in St Andrews. We have decided to kick off this blog by talking about the topic you can’t escape – Covid-19 and how this has affected active travel in St Andrews and beyond. Keep reading, its not all bad!

Across the world we have seen a rise in the number of people choosing to engage in active travel instead of using public transport and private vehicles. Not only do cycling, walking and wheeling provide an excellent way to exercise, in many cases it is just as easy as taking the bus or driving. Indeed in small towns(like St Andrews), it is becoming more obvious that travelling by bike or walking are faster and more flexible ways of getting around. This is evident in recent statistics; with people keen to avoid, well, other people, numbers have jumped across Scotland with one particular road in Dundee experiencing 94% more cycling traffic in April.

As a country we have seen large increases in government spending directed towards active travel, and in particular towards cycling and walking. Schemes like the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme aim to get people back into cycling by providing £50 worth of essential repair and maintenance. Transition UStA is fortunate to be a recipient of this grant, to find out more have a look at our Bike Pool Fix-It Session page. We are fortunate that we are able to adapt these sessions, and many other services, to be compliant with government guidelines, please stay up to date on our socials for the most recent information. Indeed reduced capacity hasn’t been wholly negative, at our covid compliant sessions people report that one-on-one maintenance support has helped with their knowledge as well as allowing for a more in-depth service. When we return to our regular drop-in format, with lots of volunteers and supervisory mechanics running sessions, we will certainly use this feedback to create better experiences for everyone.

In the wider community you may heard of St Andrews Space for Cycles who, at the start of lockdown, set out the following vision for a post lockdown St Andrews. We are keen to stress that these are ideas only and any changes that come about (such as pop up cycle lanes, speed limits etc) must be supported by the community as a whole. There are many factors and stakeholders that must be considered and schemes that move forward without considering the needs of local residents are often not successful. These endeavours however, require your input, we urge you to stay updated and to have your say so we can make the most of the opportunities we have. Find SASC on Facebook or see our Other Projects page to keep informed on our numerous other local ventures.

We at Transition have also received a huge amount of support and interest from our local community in these difficult times and would like to emphasize that we are here for you in equal measures. If you have a project in mind but dont know how to move forward, or simply think you’d make a great ambassador, we have recently launched our Active Travel Champions scheme which aims to empower peer to peer promotion of walking and cycling. If you think you could be an Active Travel Champion please contact sustainable transport officer Nikki Moorhouse or click here. We can support you and your ideas!

Of course it is worth saying that in these times, active travel may not seem as relevant since we are all being advised to stay home apart from a small number of exemptions. However, if you absolutely must go out(and have an essential reason for doing so) we encourage you to explore your options and support these positive changes. One of the most important parts of the work we do is to ensure that progress is not temporary, and that we continue to implement measures that focus on getting more people to walk, cycle and wheel beyond the pandemic. Stay safe and keep an eye out for our future blogs!

Image: One of the best things about walking to work – East Sands at winter sunrise

Do you have a topic for our active travel blog? Something you would like to discuss or simply think would be interesting? Please email td57@st-andrews.ac.uk, We’d love to hear from you!