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Can you Ditch the Car to help ease traffic congestion in Ipswich town centre?

PUBLISHED: 07:26 03 April 2017 | UPDATED: 07:26 03 April 2017

The 'Ditch the Car' campaign has been launched by the Ipswich Star and received widespread backing. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The 'Ditch the Car' campaign has been launched by the Ipswich Star and received widespread backing. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Ipswich Star today launches a new campaign urging people to ‘Ditch the Car’ and find a new way to get to work at least once a month.

The Ditch the Car campaign logo The Ditch the Car campaign logo

We want both individuals and employers across the town to pledge to sign up to the initiative, which will ease growing rush hour traffic jams, improve health, wellbeing and productivity levels and reduce carbon emissions.

We are encouraging people to, when possible, walk or cycle to work, or make use of public transport, instead of driving.

In Suffolk, six in 10 adults are unhealthily overweight. Only four in 10 meet healthy levels of physical activity, costing the county an £14million every year.

Separate data has found 60% of Ipswich residents live within three miles of their workplace and 30% live around a mile away.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “The number of people using their car in our town has increased significantly in recent years, but at the same time the numbers of people walking, cycling or using buses has stayed broadly the same.

“We need to make it easy for people to leave their car at home. That means real-time information on your phone for the next bus, easy payment on the bus, more safe cycle routes and for better cycle facilities – including showers – at places of work.”

Dr Dan Poulter, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, also backed the campaign. He said: “We all know the added health benefits of increasing our levels of physical activity, but ditching the car will also help to ease congestion within Ipswich, in addition to improving air quality for everyone. I would encourage businesses to consider signing up to this worthwhile initiative.”

• Sign up today and make your pledge to Ditch the Car

Dr Chris Rufford, a Suffolk GP and governing body member of the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “For many people the daily work routine is getting in their car, driving to work, sitting in front of a computer for eight hours and then driving home again. This pattern of behaviour is one of the major causes for the increasing levels of obesity.”

He recommended 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week.

Deborah Cadman, chief executive at Suffolk County Council, said: “We support this campaign and hope to see more people using different ways to get to and from work.”

Ipswich Star editor Brad Jones said: “This campaign is motivated by two things. The first is improving people’s health. Many of the people we’re targeting will be town centre workers who don’t need a car during the day. A regular 10, 20 or 30-minute walk or cycle into work would provide big health benefits.

“Secondly, we know the town centre’s roads struggle with capacity at peak times, and if more people ditched the car it would certainly help - plus it’s better for the environment.

“While we’re asking for people to pledge to do this once a month, we hope that it will eventually be more frequent than that – particularly with the warmer months ahead.

“Let’s be honest, we can all get a bit lazy at times and jump in the car when it’s not essential.

“But what better way to start the day than some fresh air and gentle exercise – great for the body and mind. And, you never know, you might just enjoy it!”

• Reporter Paul Geater has already made the switch and he believes leaving the car at home can cut stress as well as congestion. See more here

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