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The drive towards zero emission transport

COP26 turns its attention to ‘Travel’ today (Wednesday 10 November) and the need to accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles. But sustainable travel experts believe ‘active travel’ – walking, running and cycling – presents a real opportunity to quickly cut carbon emissions and create a cleaner, greener environment. And in Rugby, we have embraced this opportunity with the creation of the borough’s Park Connector Network.

With road transport accounting for 10 per cent of global emissions, and its contribution to emissions rising faster than any other sector, the need to switch swiftly to zero emission vehicles remains a key element of the world’s efforts to tackle the climate emergency.

Electric vehicles appear to offer a comfortable evolution, raising the prospect of maintaining a transport status quo while reaching net zero.

But a recent report published in the Nature Sustainability journal revealed manufacturing a single electric car produces nearly 12 tons of carbon emissions – the equivalent of around 15-and-a-half years of electricity used in the average UK family home.

And by sustaining a transport model based on the ownership of private vehicles, we remain committed to creating and maintaining the infrastructure to support it – ignoring the radical behavioural change required to reach net zero.

A new study by the University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit concluded active travel should be a cornerstone of sustainability strategies, policies and planning, promoting behavioural change by creating environments where cycling, walking and running become a viable - and desirable – alternative to travelling by car.

Rugby Borough Council’s Park Connector Network aims to create ‘green’ corridors across the borough, improving access to open spaces and promoting active travel.

The Park Connector Network has created a series of 'green' travel corridors across the boroughThe Park Connector Network has created a series of 'green' travel corridors across the borough.

In 2020, the council repaired and laid more than 2,000 metres of pathways, widened to cater for cyclists, walkers and runners.

Eco-friendly solar-powered lights have been installed on the network, illuminating the pathways to encourage use all year round.

The ‘Bat Hat’ lights reduce upward light pollution, which disturbs the movement and feeding patterns of bats and other nocturnal species, impacting biodiversity and the wider ecosystem.

Each light has no cables or sockets, with the battery charging automatically during daylight hours and switching on at dusk. The battery has a lifespan of at least eight years, while each LED light has a lifespan of more than 100,000 hours.

Work has started on the latest expansion of the network in and around Whinfield Recreation Ground, with further expansion plans set to be announced in the new year.Work has started on the latest expansion of the network in and around Whinfield Recreation Ground, with further expansion plans set to be announced in the new year.

This year, work has started on expanding the network, with a £75,000 grant from the Veolia Environmental Trust helping to improve pathways in and around Whinfield Recreation Ground.

And the council has now secured funding to extend the network in 2022, with plans set to be announced in the new year.

Support from residents plays a vital part in our applications for funding, so please let us know what you think about our work to promote active travel in Rugby.

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