"Even in a community highly reliant on cars, many drivers were still keen to use alternative transport - but the current infrastructure simply did not make this viable" Read this blog by Stuart Guzinski of Forth Environment Link and Richard Boddington of Drymen Community Development Trust, in advance of their presentation at next week's National Active Travel Conference.
"Over the winter of 2021/22 the Loch Lomond And The Trossachs National Park asked Forth Environment Link to explore whether Drymen, and nearby villages east of Loch Lomond, could become a ‘20 Minute Neighbourhood’.
The concept of a 20 Minute Neighbourhood – where the majority of daily needs are met within a short walk from home – has been around for some time, having been pioneered in cities such as Melbourne and Paris. But ‘cities’ is the key word here – it’s one thing reducing reliance on cars in urban areas with high population densities and well established public transport, but our challenge was to see how the model could be successfully adapted to rural Scotland. Walk 20 minutes from Drymen and you’re generally going to find yourself in a field.
Luckily, the ’20 Minute’ part of the idea is not that important. The broader idea is of a neighbourhood where you can ‘live well locally’. It’s a neighbourhood that supports active travel, boosts the local economy and addresses inequality by ensuring people are better connected to services which benefit health and wellbeing. These are all ideas that are just as important in rural settings, and are also well aligned with the ambitions of the Scottish Government.
So, we went to work, looking at the way the community accessed various amenities, distributing surveys, hearing from the health walk group, primary school students and local youth groups, among others, and organising led cycle rides, to find out what was important to residents and what they needed to be able to live well locally.
What we found may seem counterintuitive perhaps, but was not a surprise. Even in a community hugely reliant on cars, many drivers were still keen to use alternative methods of transport, but felt that the current infrastructure simply did not make this a viable option. Good quality, pedestrian and cycle routes, safe from speeding cars, running through and between the local villages were in high demand. Better and more dynamic public transport was also high on the wish list.
The Drymen community has been working hard to encourage active travel. A cycle path towards Loch Lomond, e-bike loans, solar powered e-bike chargers, improvements to pavements, a cycle path leaflet and a regular Cycle Meanders club are all making it easier to access local amenities, but safer routes for cyclists and walkers remains a key requirement if people are to live well locally even in rural settings."
Stuart and Richard will be presenting in breakout session 1B. View the whole conference agenda here.