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.
“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.
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.