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£200m available for cycling and walking travel schemes in England – with councils urged to prioritise safety of women

Active Travel England calls for bids for cash, with successful schemes announced later in the year

Councils are being urged to apply to Active Travel England for a share of a £200 million fund which the government says is aimed at making cycling and walking more attractive choices for everyday travel – with the safety of women walking home at night one of the criteria that will be used to evaluate schemes when deciding where the cash will go.

The Department for Transport says that the funding will help make crossings and junctions safer, including around schools, local high streets and on main roads.

The funding, which is open to bids from local authorities in England outside London, is also aimed at improving local transport links, as well as creating new jobs.

Outlining examples of the type of scheme that could win funding, with applications open from today, Active Travel England listed “creating more paths in rural areas, developing safer routes for children to walk to school,” and “improved safety at junctions for people walking and cycling.”

It said that projects, which would be drawn up in consultation with local residents and nearby businesses, would also aim to make streetscapes more inclusive for those using wheelchairs or mobility scooters to get around, with the winning projects being announced later this year.

Mark Harper, Member for Parliament for Forest of Dean and the Secretary of State for Transport, said: “This £200 million investment for hundreds of upgraded routes and paths across the country will help to reduce emissions, boost local economies and create jobs.

“These new schemes will make it safer for children to walk to school and will better connect rural communities, helping more people choose active travel as an affordable and healthy way to get around.”

Besides getting more students cycling, walking or scooting to school in line with the government’s aim of getting 55 per cent of all primary school children doing so by 2035, the announcement also emphasised the need for schemes to take the safety of women into account, citing 2021 research from the Office for National Statistics showing that one in two do not feel safe walking home on darkened streets at night.

Chris Boardman, Active Travel Commissioner for England, commented: “Active travel is convenient, cheap, low carbon and health-giving.

> Chris Boardman heads newly-launched government body Active Travel England

“It’s a choice we need to make sure everyone has. Sometimes it only takes relatively small changes, such as crossings on school routes or convenient places to park a bike, to give us the option to walk, wheel or ride.

“Our job is to help local authorities across the country ensure that everyone has more attractive options for their daily trips and we are excited to help them deliver those options,” he added.

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said that the funding was welcome but urged the way in which it is made available to local authorities to be rethought to provide more certainty for the longer term.

Quoted in the Guardian, he explained: “If the government wants to reach its own targets to increase levels of walking and cycling, it has to move from one-year competitive funding rounds to long-term and secure funding streams, giving councils the confidence and ability to plan and deliver connected networks of active travel routes.”

The funding announced today comes on top of £33 million announced last month to help local authorities across England to build a network of experts in active travel to help them develop cycling and walking schemes.

> £33 million funding to help councils across England build network of active travel experts

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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16 comments

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peted76 | 1 year ago
4 likes

I'd love this to be big news.. but we all know it's going to be spent on murder strips and rebuilding a roundabout somewhere...  

[/insert~expectation vs reality meme] #sadface

I dunno.. maybe something good will come of it.. I mean there must be some councils out there wanting to convert a bit of unsused trainline into a greenaway.. or maybe we'll get a NCN route connected to another NCN route somewhere by adding in a couple of blue signs along a road or two.. 

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chrisonabike | 1 year ago
5 likes
Quote:

The Department for Transport says that the funding will help make crossings and junctions safer

Excellent!  That's the heart of it - we've almost always failed at these critical points before.

Good, so which town / city is that for then?  Presumably at that level they're funding somewhere like Bristol or Manchesterto make a "good enough" complete network, to "prove it works"? Or maybe somewhere smaller for that money - but somewhere that's already on the path at least?

Wait - that's for the whole of England (minus London)?  Is this a share of that same 500 million we've been hearing about for a while now?

Quote:

... including around schools, local high streets and on main roads. ... creating more paths in rural areas, developing safer routes for children to walk to school ... also aimed at improving local transport links, as well as creating new jobs.

Oh dear - is this the usual "Active travel is wonderful!  It's so efficient that we can get paradise for the cost of a few tins of paint" level of funding?  Wildly unrealistic goals declared given the cash?  Spreading little very thin?  I really hope I'm wrong but I'm conditioned by previous statements to imagine this draining into the sand.  "improving local transport links" (it's going to go on buses and bypasses), "creating new jobs" (for consultants).

Still - shouldn't quibble!  I've previously speculated that active travel gets nowhere partly because there aren't the gigantic tempting sums that the motor transport / energy companies have to interest politicians in engaging in graft helping direct their own area / constituents.  Probably like any change it's just a competition for political and social interest, as gauged by "cash available".

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Awavey | 1 year ago
4 likes

can someone actually review what councils spent in active travel funding phase 2, before we pony up even more money for them ?

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
7 likes

Duncan Dollimore of CUK, as ever, hits the nail on the head:

"If the government wants to reach its own targets to increase levels of walking and cycling, it has to move from one-year competitive funding rounds to long-term and secure funding streams, giving councils the confidence and ability to plan and deliver connected networks of active travel routes.”

The mistake of having limited funding for a year has been repeated time after time, resulting in rushed, poorly conceived, designed and constructed schemes.  We need a long term plan with sustained investment, at least 10% of the transport budget rising to 20% guaranteed for at least ten years.

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giff77 replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
6 likes

After which our glorious councils will enter a 24 month consultation which will result in a huge kickback against changes and the infra will be built on some obscure country lane on the boundary of the borough to much aplomb on what the council has achieved in encouraging active travel. Or am I being a tad cynical.  

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Simon E replied to giff77 | 1 year ago
2 likes

And a large chunk of the money will be paid to consultants, who will be laughing all the way to the (offshore?) bank once again.

Meanwhile any infrastructure created will be patchy, disjointed and inadequate. no

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chrisonabike replied to Simon E | 1 year ago
1 like

Profiteering and corruption?  Same as with "roads" ... difference with cycling is that the money's MUCH smaller, time-limited and appears sporadically as eBurt says.  Sadly human nature as it is perhaps it just needs sufficient sustained cash so that it can achieve something in addition to the troughing, misspending and frank graft.

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Simon E replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
2 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

Profiteering and corruption?  Same as with "roads" ... difference with cycling is that the money's MUCH smaller, time-limited and appears sporadically as eBurt says.

Profiteering and corruption is the gold standard for capitalism. How else can companies make enough money to satisfy shareholders and grow the property portfolio?

Another difference is that roads are joined-up and invariably get built and used. Shrewsbury had a ring road. In the 1990s it also gained a dual carriageway bypass. By 2013 the Highways Agency decided to spend another £9 million 'improving' 4 roundabouts on this bypass, apparently to "reduce congestion and improve safety". The work has failed to do either of those things.

In 2015 the Shrewsbury Integrated Transport Package, estimated to cost about £12 million, "will present a number of measures aimed at alleviating congestion and improving town centre pedestrian areas". Some areas have been re-paved, kerbs built further out and a few streets narrowed. However, it hasn't made any significant difference to traffic levels.

And the car-brains want another bypass-type road to encircle the town because there is "too much traffic". £15 million has already been spaffed on consultations in recent years and there are still ignorant people insisting that another road around the town is the solution.

Meanwhile the councillors laugh at the idea of cycling as a mode of transport (with a few exceptions), despite the racks in town often being full and the town, with at least 3 significant pinch points, being a great candidate for reducing traffic levels. It's pretty depressing.

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hawkinspeter replied to Simon E | 1 year ago
3 likes
Simon E wrote:

Another difference is that roads are joined-up and invariably get built and used.

*M49 enters the chat*

 

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Hirsute replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

The Post claims they are going to finish it.
At a cost of least 7M.

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
1 like

7m?  Pocket change!  Adding 3 miles to the end of Edinburgh's tram network (which is a single straight line with no route branches or loops) got a budget of 207 million (not completed so we don't know the final total).

Anyway, Glasgow sees you and raises you on both wild enthusiasm for big (motorway) infra, lack of connectivity, and cost:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M8_Bridge_to_Nowhere

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
1 like
chrisonatrike wrote:

7m?  Pocket change!  Adding 3 miles to the end of Edinburgh's tram network (which is a single straight line with no route branches or loops) got a budget of 207 million (not completed so we don't know the final total).

Anyway, Glasgow sees you and raises you on both wild enthusiasm for big (motorway) infra, lack of connectivity, and cost:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M8_Bridge_to_Nowhere

We've got one of those, but it's only a baby one: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/bridge-nowhere-supposed-link-st-3284659

I've walked over it (and obviously straight back) and it's a very nice bridge if you like that kind of thing.

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brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:
Simon E wrote:

Another difference is that roads are joined-up and invariably get built and used.

*M49 enters the chat*

I really hope someone lost their job over that mess!

They are only now working through the landowners whose land they'll need to CPO to be able to build the access roads without which the roandabout junction was an utter waste of money.

And let's not get started on how I'd thought that the access roads were being built by the business estate developer as s106 agreements...

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eburtthebike replied to Simon E | 1 year ago
1 like

Shrewsbury is far from unique and your catalogue of missed opportunities, futile road building and wilful blind ignorance to the real answers to congestion are country-wide.

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Awavey replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
1 like

maybe he needs to speak to St Chris of Boardman then, Active Travel England are the ones happily signing this off, the government havent just gone quick we need to spend 200million on something before the budget...should we spend it on pay rises for nurses, police, firemen? or no err lets give it those cyclists/walkers instead.

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huntswheelers | 1 year ago
4 likes

Well that's Cambridgeshire covered... linking up the market Towns to the 2 big cities and the small city......dunno what the rest of the UK are going to do..... In all seriousness....£20bn still wouldn't be enough, typical conservatives....speak big numbers a rollover lottery winner would be shocked to win....and the public will think it's a lot of cash

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