If you were driving through Newcastle and Sunderland yesterday and noticed people holding huge boards as you drove past you weren’t seeing things. It was teams from Smarter Choices – and the reason for the demonstrations is to try and get people to leave their cars at home.
With major cities in the country trying to get people out of their cars and onto their bikes, the North East is now following suit thanks to the launch of the new campaign yesterday.
Wearsiders are being urged to leave their cars at home and walk or cycle to work as part of a drive to combat congestion and improve health and fitness in the area.
The Smarter Choices "leave traffic standing" summer campaign encourages commuters to take the healthier option of cycling or walking to escape stress, save money and improve their overall health while also easing congestion on the roads.
On whether they got their message across or not Laura Fitzpatrick, Marketing Officer at Smarter Choices, said: “People had little choice not to listen as we had people on the main bridges in Newcastle and Sunderland with boards saying things like ‘park it and walk it.’ We were out in rush hour in the morning and again in the afternoon. It was great and we have teams going out again tomorrow.”
Laura is also sure the campaign will have an effect. “It’s always going to be tricky changing people’s attitudes and behaviour because people are comfortable in their cars as a general rule but with all the health benefits of incorporating exercise like cycling and walking people do pick up on that.”
Smarter Choices project manager Stephen Psallidas, who cycles to and from work five days a week, said: “The North East's roads have several areas where congestion is a problem, especially during busy commute periods. We also have a great network of cycle and walking routes, which can provide convenient and safe journeys for commuters wishing to leave their cars at home."
Smarter Choices aim is to reduce congestion by reducing the number of single-occupancy car drivers on the roads of Tyne & Wear, by providing information and running campaigns to help change people's travel behaviour.