Abingdon Green Forum: Report for 1st Quarter 2022

This post was written by volunteer Anne Smart, Green Forum Coordinator in Jan-March for “Active Travel & Sustainable Transport

For background information on the purpose and objectives of The Forum, please visit our dedicated page: Abingdon Green Forum.

Active travel and sustainable transport

We are planning a series of Forums this year on 4 different environmental topics, and the topic of the first quarter was “Active Travel & Sustainable Transport”.

The purpose of this Forum was to encourage residents of Abingdon to walk and cycle more, and use their cars less, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of the town.

We drew together representatives from local groups already active in this area, namely Abingdon Liveable StreetsSustrans and Abibike. We shared information amongst ourselves and with the wider public.

We collected views from residents of Abingdon, through surveys and at our market stalls on 29th January & 26th March.

Our Big event

This Forum culminated in a market stall in the Market Place on 26th March. This showcased what the Forum had achieved, and also collected ideas from those who attended. We had 10 volunteers on a rota manning the stall, with support from Cllrs Eric de la Harpe and Jim Halliday.

The weather was kind and there was a good turnout of approximately 60 people.

Clive Elsmore (from Abingdon Carbon Cutters) kindly loaned his bike and trailer with boards, eg “this machine fights climate change”. Extinction Rebellion Abingdon held a cycling event on the same morning, with a number doing circuits along the central roads.

We had a big map of Abingdon on a board, with heading “What is your favourite walk or cycle route? Which routes could be improved?”. 24 people put comments on post-it notes, eg “we need a cycle lane from Wootton to Abingdon”; “Radley Rd is very dangerous going north from Ind. Estate”; “can we have No Traffic Sundays?”.

Sustrans Liveable Towns and Cities Coordinator Nadine Matough prepared a big poster showing the results of her survey into attitudes about school streets, 20 minute neighbourhoods, car sharing, cycle hire, improved routes, and speed reduction. She created pie charts analysing the 132 responses.

Caroline Townsend (Chair of Abingdon Carbon Cutters) prepared posters answering “Why people like driving their cars?” and asking “What Impact does this have?” & “How do we Encourage Active Travel?” 17 people wrote comments, eg “We need safer Bridge St junction”; “We need cycling confidence training for teenagers and adults who missed it at school”; “bike racks on buses”.

We showcased the winning design of the schools competition to design a logo for a Hi-Viz backpack cover & waistcoat; also 6 runner-up designs. Visitors to the stall could have a Hi-Viz for a suggested donation towards costs of £5 each. We took £122 in donations. (See below for more details about this project).

Also on the boards were details about our 2 local bike shops, a question about whether people had considered an electric bike or a tandem, a notice about Bikeability for schools and adults, and an A3 print out of Oxford Cycle Network’s Robin Tucker’s map of cycle routes in Abingdon. Also information about Sustrans’ annual Big Walk and Wheel.

Harriet Moggridge (Abingdon Carbon Cutters) set out a variety of bus time tables, and information about a Car Club and Car-sharing. Some people took part in the car sharing questionnaire.

Schools competition to design Hi-Viz

53 young people entered the competition:

  • 36 from St Edmund’s,
  • 9 from Caldecott,
  • 7 from Fitzharrys
  • and 1 from Larkmead.

The purpose of the Hi-Viz logo is to draw attention to the environmental benefits of cycling, and to encourage more people to cycle when possible.

The winner was Megan from Fitzharrys, with runners up: 1 from Fitzharrys, 3 from St Edmund’s and 2 from Caldecott schools.

We gave each of them a backpack cover as a prize. The prizes were presented to the 2 Fitzharrys students, at their school.

We also gave waistcoats to some of the volunteers, and one to each bike shop.

Those left over (8 waistcoats and 30 backpack covers) were taken to the Climate Emergency Centre, where they are available for a donation.

The total cost of the Hi-Viz was £626.47p, for 25 adult waistcoats and 50 backpack covers. These were paid for by Oxford Low Carbon Hub, who awarded us a grant of £471.37p; and the Town Council made up the difference in cost , ie £155.10p.

Achievements of the Forum

  1. Sharing of information amongst groups and individuals active in this area.
  2. Sharing this information and raising awareness with members of the public, through a variety of ways.
  3. Comments and suggestions gathered from members of the public, eg on how routes can be improved.
  4. Schools competition for Hi-Viz logo: involvement of young people, a good finished product, with the aim of further raising awareness when people notice the logo being worn by cyclists about town.

Ongoing work to be taken forward

  1. A new walking and cycling map of Abingdon is being prepared by the Town Council, Sustrans and Abingdon Liveable Streets.
  2. Aim to improve signage for walking and cycling routes.
  3. Abingdon Liveable Streets is working on including the voices of more wheelchair users and families in plans to improve accessibility and safe streets for all users.
  4. Abingdon Liveable Streets and One Planet Abingdon will continue to promote car sharing, and use of public transport and green delivery slots.
  5. Schools to be encouraged to engage Bikeability, and adult Bikeability scheme to be promoted.