National walking and cycling charity Sustrans has scooped an award for its contribution to disabled access across Yorkshire.
The charity has been chosen to receive the Good Access Scheme award from Harrogate-based charity Open Country for its efforts to open up more accessible routes for walkers and cyclists. This year, Sustrans has completed an extension of the cycle path from Thorp Arch to Newton Kyme creating a traffic free route linking Wetherby and Tadcaster and has carried out upgrades to paths on the Yorkshire Showground.
Open Country launched its Good Access Award in 2015 to recognise the best countryside ‘access for all’ project in the county. As well as providing activities and outings to enable people with a disability to access and enjoy the countryside, the charity provides information, training and advice to landowners, councils and outdoor organisations looking to improve disabled access. Previous winners of the award have included Yorkshire Water for its work to make the path around Swinsty Reservoir completely accessible and RSPB St Aidans for its efforts to open up more of its reserve to people of all abilities.
David Shaftoe, Chief Officer of Open Country, said:
We see a lot of positive developments in accessibility across Yorkshire, but Sustrans’ efforts stood out for going the extra mile to ensure its network of paths can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their ability. As well as their projects on specific parts of the Cycle Network they have also pledged to remove 16,000 barriers from its network across England – an incredible commitment to opening up access for all.
Mike Babbitt, Head of Network Development and Rosslyn Colderley Director for England North, attended a virtual award ceremony hosted by members of Open Country’s Tandem Club who have benefited from Sustrans’ work.
Our five Tandem Clubs enjoy many of Sustrans’ National Cycle Network routes around Yorkshire on their weekly rides in the spring and summer. Volunteer ‘pilots’ enable our disabled back riders to enjoy the pleasures of riding a bike. Riding on some of the excellent cycle routes managed and maintained by Sustrans makes it a more pleasurable and safe experience for all our club members. They certainly appreciate the project to remove barriers on the routes which always cause a problem for tandems.
We’re delighted to present them with this award and hope that it inspires other outdoor organisations to consider ways they can improve access for all visitors.
It was a real pleasure to receive this award from some of the people who use and enjoy our cycle network. We are very proud of what has been achieved already and are determined to continue our work with renewed enthusiasm because we can see the difference it is making to the lives of people with a disability.
2020 has proven that access to outdoor spaces is crucial to people’s wellbeing and yet something as simple as a barrier or stile could prevent young families and people who are older or disabled from getting to their local green spaces and from moving actively and sustainably around their neighbourhoods.
We are committed to creating paths for everyone across the National Cycle Network to ensure no one feels excluded from accessing our routes and people can enjoy the outdoors safely.
For more information on Sustrans’ efforts to remove barriers across the National Cycle Network, visit www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/opinion/2020/june/why-removing-restrictive-barriers-must-be-part-of-our-response-to-covid-19