Illustration for smarter sustainable travel

Our ideas to address key challenge: Sustainable travel and transport

What are we trying to achieve?

  1. We will increase the rate of decarbonisation in travel.
  2. We will increase opportunities for and use of sustainable and active travel.
  3. We will make use of new technology and digital connectivity to reduce the need to travel and to market and create new sustainable travel opportunities.

What is the challenge and why are we trying to address it?

As noted in the Landscapes Review “The days when Alfred Wainwright wrote his walking guides to the Lake District setting off from Kendal each morning by bus have long gone.” Before COVID-19 over 85% of visitors arrive to the Lake District by private motor vehicle. We know it’s not just visitors relying on private motor vehicles, as workers who cannot afford to live in the Lake District have to commute and public transport is not widely available at the times and locations required.

The challenge for transport therefore extends beyond the Park boundary. We want the Lake District to be a place where everyone, regardless of wealth or ability is able to access the national park sustainably. Where low carbon travel is the obvious and most attractive choice for essential and leisure travel. Where the community, the economy and the nation’s mental and physical health benefits from active travel in an inspirational landscape.

During the 2020 season, as a result of COVID-19, the proportion of visitors arriving by private vehicle increased further as more people went on staycations, and Government advised people to avoid public transport as ‘lockdown’ restrictions eased. Much of this behaviour will continue into 2021 therefore our visitor management strategy for 2021 seeks to mitigate some of these risks in the short term. As confidence rises and restrictions are eased we must restore confidence in the use of public and shared transport services for our communities, economy and environment.

Our evidence in the Sustainable travel evidence base paper and further research looking into the current situation in the Sustainable travel and transport supporting paper, provides a greater insight into challenges like car dependency, traffic, and public transport.

The Climate Change Adaptation report sets out the far reaching impacts of expected climate change on the transport network and its consequences for the visitor economy, highlighting the importance of the network having in-built resilience. Our actions are realistic at the current time but we will strive to develop more ambitious actions.

One of the few positive experiences of the Covid-19 lockdown was that larger number of people have enjoyed cycling and walking more, and many people discovered, or rediscovered the health and wellbeing benefits of cycling, walking and horse riding on quiet roads with reduced traffic and better air quality. We now have a unique opportunity to work together to ensure some of these benefits can continue to be experienced through a ‘green recovery’, attracting new visitors to the Lake District to undertake quiet and healthy recreation, helping to support the economy. Improved and available sustainable transport is crucial as it supports delivery against the other key challenges.

In order for the English Lake District economy to thrive, transport for residents and visitors requires further change, to enable it to meet the needs of more people more often. As noted in the Landscapes review:

“We don’t think all car use is wrong, or that it can be ended. But we do think people should be given a choice and we also think that unlimited car use can spoil the natural beauty of the special places people come to see in the first place. It is not much fun being on the shores of somewhere such as Windermere on a bike or on foot when the A592 is nose to tail,”

Final report on Landscapes Review by Julian Glover

The pressures caused by visitors arriving by car can damage the visitor experience. They are a significant contributor to the English Lake District’s carbon budget and, can at times, cause anxiety to our communities. Improvements to sustainable transport alongside the decarbonisation of existing transport would deliver benefits to our communities and build capacity for economic growth.

  • Boat near Derwent Isle - John Hodgson

    Boat near Derwent Isle - John Hodgson

  • Electric bikes at Holbeck - Go Lakes

    Electric bikes at Holbeck - Go Lakes

  • Langdale Rambler cyclist - Go Lakes

    Langdale Rambler cyclist - Go Lakes

  • Road biking in Langdale - Go Lakes

    Road biking in Langdale - Go Lakes

  • The 555 bus - Stagecoach

    The 555 bus - Stagecoach

  • Bike hire centre - Adrian Naik

    Bike hire centre - Adrian Naik

Our suggested approach

We would like to hear your views on our suggested approach. The English Lake District already offers many world class travel experiences, including iconic lake cruises, open top bus journeys and some of the country’s best walking and cycling opportunities but we want to address the identified challenges where we can. Partners and stakeholders have already delivered many infrastructure improvements, such as multi-user trails (e.g. Keswick to Threlkeld), improved walking trails and signage, and online information on how busy places are.

Whilst a lot of the reduction in carbon emissions from transport that we all hope for depends on government policy and its implementation we will continue to work together to identify further measures to improve how people get to and around the English Lake District sustainably, decarbonise travel, and improve getting around by developing new experiences that will form part of the economic, and health and wellbeing recovery from Covid-19.

Lake District > Cumbria > Regional > National

Where we fit into the bigger picture

Actions, asks and delivery

Our actions are based on the principle of continuous improvement and designed to address what we are seeking to achieve. Some of these actions may last the length of this Plan or longer, while others will be delivered sooner. Our actions will change throughout the Plan period as we need to be agile and respond to changing situations and changing knowledge. We will be ambitious and aim to deliver more where opportunities arise.

Our Asks (regional and national development)

  1. Advocate and support initiatives for multi-modal ticketing and enhanced connectivity from the West Coast Mainline between Penrith and Keswick and from Oxenholme and Windermere Stations.
  2. Support the following rail upgrades:
    1. Doubling of capacity on the Lakes Line.
    2. Cumbria Coast Line improvements.
    3. West Coast Main Line service stopping and capacity improvements. Direct services to/from London, Scotland and Manchester Airport.
    4. Improved number of trains stopping at Penrith and Oxenholme and connectivity with HS2 to meet the needs of Lake District.
    5. Station accessibility improvements on all lines.
    6. Decarbonisation of rail travel in the Lake District.
  3. Lobby Government to support providers to deliver low carbon trains, buses and boats.
  4. Encourage providers to improve digital platforms to promote and inform sustainable travel on and between all modes.

Our Tasks

  1. Deliver short term actions set out in the Visitor Management Tactical Action Plan to support covid-19 recovery including attract and disperse, active travel development, recovery of public transport use, temporary car parking and ensuring safe space in public realm and on road for walking and cycling.
  2. Continue to improve access to parking, travel and congestion information including the Safer Lakes website and develop and market opportunities to park up for the day and walk, cycle, or use sustainable transport.
  3. Develop marketing and ticketing initiatives for all sustainable and active transport modes. All Partners to promote sustainable travel through their own communications.
  4. Ensure the Lake District’s plans to decarbonise its transport are covered fully in the Cumbria Transport Infrastructure Plan (CTIP) and support the delivery of these actions. Make sure these two strategic planning initiatives are mutually reinforcing.
  5. Work in partnership to encourage the decarbonisation of transport including:
    1. Rolling out EV charging.
    2. Support carbon reduction technology on buses, trains and water transport.
    3. Secure funding for and delivery of rail improvements on the Lakes Line to deliver passing loop, electrification, and Windermere Station Gateway improvements.
    4. Deliver better passenger waiting facilities and interchanges, including Ambleside Bus Station.
    5. Support more resilient infrastructure and increased capacity for water transport.
    6. Work with businesses and communities to quantify needs and secure funding for improved workers’ and community transport and delivery services.
    7. Deliver integrated transport projects including those set out in the Keswick Transport Study.
  6. All partners to commit to a reduction in staff and visitor travel and travel related carbon emissions through continuing opportunities for virtual working, meetings and events.
  7. Develop and promote active travel including:
    1. Market and promote opportunities for active recreation including cycling, walking and horse riding.
    2. Support active travel routes set out in the Cumbria Transport Infrastructure Plan.
    3. Promote bike and e-bike hire and develop and promote a network of e-bike charging points.
    4. Support highways work to improve safety and encourage active travel including traffic management in suitable locations where supported by the community.
    5. Create, maintain and promote waymarked walking routes on the existing rights of way network.
    6. Create new routes, including accessible Miles without Stiles routes and links from visitor hubs to key visitor locations.
    7. Deliver new infrastructure through SeeMore Lake District priority multi user routes (Borderlands Growth Deal Funding project).
  8. Support new opportunities and research coming forward from technology developments including shared mobility, information, ticketing and research.
  9. Continue the success of partnership working to improve all aspects of low carbon transport.

Local Action

  1. Communities and businesses to promote public transport and active travel in their communications. We will support them to provide sustainable travel itineraries, information, ticketing linked with attractions and accommodation.
  2. Work with communities to:
    1. develop local actions,
    2. be pilots for local areas, and
    3. deliver actions at a community level.
  3. Support the Community Rail Partnership to deliver rail improvements including funding applications to improve station accessibility at Ulverston and Staveley.

Research priorities

  • What makes a holistically sustainable rural community (including research covering housing, employment, services and transport?).
  • Comparing attitudes and behaviour for visitors and residents in terms of how they would like to move around the park.
  • A cost benefit analysis of changing away from car dependency for businesses in the Lake District to address congestion and net zero.
Help shape the plan - our shared plan for the Lake District

Thank you for sharing your views

This consultation closed at midday Wednesday 23 June 2021, thank you to everyone who gave their views.

The Partnership are now analysing the responses and will update the Plan for adoption later in the year.

The other key challenges

This challenge does not operate in isolation, you may also be interested in the four other key challenges: