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Give your journey a lift

PUBLISHED: 11:00 14 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:00 22 October 2010

We may need our cars to get around in Norfolk but we could often fit more people in rather than driving alone. KEIRON PIM reports on local efforts to improve this as part of Green Transport Week.

In a rural county such as Norfolk, it is not always possible to get by without a car, however environmentally friendly we might want to be.

But there are still ways of reducing the number of vehicles on the roads, and sharing a lift is one of the most effective.

This week is Green Transport Week and today is Liftshare Day, when people up and down the country are being urged to help the environment and save themselves money.

The aim is to increase the number of car sharers in the UK by 20pc. The organisers say that if the national average car occupancy could be raised from 1.6 to two people then Britain's carbon dioxide emissions from cars would be reduced by 20pc, helping the UK to achieve the 2012 target set out in the Kyoto Protocol.

Norfolk is central to these efforts, as Liftshare Day is being organised by Attleborough-based company liftshare.com. Its founder, Ali Clabburn, pictured, said: "Our aim for today is to reach out to those people who would not normally consider car sharing and encouraging them to give it a try. In our experience once a person tries car sharing they soon realise that the personal, cost, convenience and environmental benefits soon outweigh any excuse not to.

"We all want to find simple actions we can take to help reduce our CO2 emissions and sharing a car is one of the easiest ways to do so - and it will save you money! A typical liftshare member will save over one ton of CO2 a year, and £1.000, by sharing a car."

Norfolk County Council is also doing its bit by encouraging its staff to share a lift to work. Today, 100 car parking spaces at County Hall have been reserved for staff who are car sharing. More than a dozen other county council premises are also taking part in the initiative, with specific car sharing spaces reserved at each site.

If the take-up of these spaces proves to be successful, the council will look at making car sharing spaces a permanent feature at County Hall.

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: "In a county such as ours a lot of people cannot get to and from work by walking, cycling or by using public transport. That is why it is important that large organisations, such as the county council, look at ways to encourage initiatives such as this one in a bid to reduce road congestion."

Council employees have also been setting the trend by running a sharing scheme of their own. On two or three days each week, Trevor Turk, network coordinator for the Norfolk Guidance Service, shares a lift to work from his home in Dereham to the county hall - a journey of 20 miles.

What began as a way of dealing with the inevitable difficulties in finding a space to park, has become a socialising opportunity, and a way to save money.

Trevor said: "When I moved to Dereham I was keen to meet new people in the area, and car sharing seemed a good place to start. When you consider the financial costs of making a 40-mile-a-day round trip to work, over the course of a year this can add up to around £1,200, and so sharing a lift for a few days a week can really help save money.

"I've also made a very good friend by joining the Carshare Norfolk scheme, and because we share the driving, it means it's easier to socialise after work as one of us is able to have a drink, without having to worry about needing a taxi to get home.

"You see so many cars with only ever one person travelling in them, and it just doesn't make sense!"

The county council and Norwich City Council are already working together to promote car sharing via the Carshare Norfolk scheme, which was relaunched in November last year and has almost 2000 members. It is on course to save its members more than £110,000 - and a million miles in journeys this year.

It's free to join www.liftshare.com by logging details of any journey you wish to make. The advanced matching software will provide members with a map and details of others who are travelling the same way. For more information about Liftshare Day, see www.nationalliftshareday.org


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