Royal Honour for Sustainable Transport Charity

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans is to receive a Queen's Award for Enterprise.

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Award, which was officially announced on April 21, 2009, comes from the Queen, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and an Advisory Committee that includes representatives of Government, industry and commerce, and the trade unions.

The Queen's Award for Sustainable Development is the highest honour that can be given to a UK company. It recognises businesses and organisations which have made outstanding advances or have a high level of continuous achievement, in the environmental and social impacts included in sustainable development.

Sustrans spokeperson says Sustrans is delighted to be receiving the Award. As the charity behind the National Cycle Network and many other practical projects designed to get people travelling in ways that are good for their health and the environment it has over thirty years of working in Bristol and across the whole of the UK.

Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans CEO says: "We are delighted to be recognised by this award. But it does not belong solely to us. From the early days of the National Cycle Network through to our £50 million lottery win we could not have achieved any of this without the support of the many hundreds of partners we work with every day. From central and local governments through to the private sector and individuals including our 2,500 volunteers we are grateful for their commitment and share this award with them."

In 2007 the UK public voted Sustrans the winner in the Big Lottery Fund's largest ever competition. The £50 million prize money, for the charity's Connect2 project, is now being used to enable 79 communities across the UK to get around their local area on foot and by bike.

The charity is working with tens of thousands of children to help them cycle to and from school and has seen levels of cycling treble within a year. It is also innovating in encouraging people to re-think the way they travel, Sustrans' work to encourage and enable people to walk, cycle or go by public transport has consistently reduced car trips by up to 10 per cent and at the same time increased the number of journeys people make on foot, by bike and by public transport.

This is something that is so urgently needed as far as the environment and pollution is concerned as well and especially the way that so many of our youngsters suffer from often severe obesity that is due, primarily, to the wrong kind of food and very much so the lack of exercise. They get bussed to school my their parents, collected from school, driven to this or that after school activity and then, when they get home they plonk themselves before the TV or the PC and that's it.

It is not much better with them and for them on the weekends either for again they get bussed to everywhere as the parents also do not walk anywhere or cycle and the vicious cycle – pardon the pun – continues.

In addition to those activities by Sustrans communities in selected streets across the UK are already benefiting from a transport makeover as Sustrans works with residents to transform their neighbourhoods into places that are people-friendly rather than car-centric.

Such changes are urgently needed for cycling is certainly not safe on many of our roads. The car drivers must be educated as to bicycles and the fact that they, the drivers, must give cyclist some room. This causes many who use a bicycle – especially as primary mode of transport – to use the sidewalk rather than cycle in the road. While this may be against the law – it, in fact is – it is safer and my life is not at risk. When cycling with consideration other people also are not put at risk even when using the sidewalk.

There are also cyclists that need to take a close look at how they behave. A red traffic light means stop and that also applies to cyclists, whether or not he or she is Lycra clad and is wearing and environmental fruit bowl on the head.

This announcement by Sustrans will be followed by a formal presentation later in this Spring.

© 2009