The town of Dunbar has grown significantly in recent years with the addition of 600 new houses to the south of the railway line resulting in a proportional increase in population. The resulting traffic was causing concern and local people considered it vitally important to improve walking and cycling links between the new and old parts of town in order to increase social inclusion and to encourage less dependence on the car.
Funding from the Climate Challenge Fund allowed Connecting Dunbar to employ 3 part-time members of staff over the past 14 months. Our aim was to identify current travel patterns, and produce maps and resources to enable local people to make more sustainable travel choices. A large part of the project was concerned with community engagement and ensuring that as many people as possible were aware of our work. The success of this can be measured by the fact that over 10% of the local population responded to our surveys.
We put considerable effort into responding to people’s concerns by setting up single-issue groups to campaign for e.g. better bus services or to provide access to a carshare club. We hope these groups will be an enduring legacy of our project and as they become established they will attract further funding or generate income for community proposals in their own right.
The Connecting Dunbar project has concentrated on information gathering and preparation of route maps and timetable based information. Consequently, there has been no measurable reduction in carbon emissions to date. Once maps are published and distributed, and work on public transport timetables and service information can be completed, people will have high quality resources enabling them to make informed choices and change travel behaviour. It will be then that CO2 emissions due to travel should begin to fall.
As a result of our work, we have achieved the following community outcomes:
- Dunbar area residents have access to local sustainable transport information
- Local and national groups have the evidence they need to lobby for sustainable transport improvements
- Local groups and individuals have access to high-quality local maps for all purposes
- More local people are considering reducing their use of private cars
- Local people can join a carsharing club, thus removing the need to own a private car
- Local people can join a bus users group to voice their concerns on public transport provision
- Local people can access cycle training and learn bike maintenance skills
As more of the aspirational framework becomes reality, and the future projects detailed in the legacy of the project get underway, there will be significant reductions in CO2 emissions from short travel journeys.