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More than 100 cycling and walking projects across England to share £200 million in funding

Investment overseen by Active Travel England will also see £35 million spent on upgrades to the National Cycle Network

Councils across England are to share £200 million central government investment into schemes aimed at encouraging cycling and walking, with 134 projects set to benefit funding under the initiative which is being overseen by Active Travel England.

The Department for Transport says that £161 million will be spent on new footways, cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings in 46 local authority areas outside England.

In addition to that funding, 19 authorities – including in Nottinghamshire, Hull and Manchester – will also receive a share of £1.5 million for “mini-Holland” feasibility studies, to assess how the areas could be as pedestrian and cycle-friendly as their Dutch city equivalents.

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said: “This multimillion-pound investment will ensure people right across the country can access cheap, healthy and zero-emission travel.”

Chris Boardman, who earlier this year was appointed Active Travel Commissioner for England, commented: “This is all about enabling people to leave their cars at home and enjoy local journeys on foot or by bike.

> “The bicycle is the answer”: Chris Boardman talks about Active Travel England, Highway Code changes + more on episode 17 of the Podcast

“Active Travel England is going to make sure high-quality spaces for cycling, wheeling and walking are delivered across all parts of England, creating better streets, a happier school run and healthier, more pleasant journeys to work and the shops.”

A further £35 million will be spent improving the National Cycle Network, which is managed by the charity Sustrans, including upgrades to 44 off-road-sections of its routes, and £8 million will go on  an initiative to encourage more people to ride e-bikes through short and long-term loans, with a pilot scheme operated by Cycling UK launching last week in Greater Manchester.

The national cycling charity also gets £2 million for its Big Bike Revival scheme which enables people to get bicycles that have been left unused in gardens and sheds back in a roadworthy condition.

Xavier Brice, chief executive officer of Sustrans, said: “As custodians of the National Cycle Network, we’re delighted that the government is continuing to invest in these vital and much-loved walking, wheeling and cycling routes.

“This funding will see improvements made to the network in England, connecting cities, towns and the countryside, making walking, wheeling and cycling a safer, more convenient and more accessible travel option for everyone.

“The network is a national asset that is loved locally and continued investment will advance our work with partners and stakeholders across the UK. Together, we’re reimagining the ways in which we move around, empowering people to connect with others and helping everyone explore our shared environments,” he added.

One of the schemes that will be funded as part of the announcement is the 1930s cycle track in Leicester.

The journalist and author Carlton Reid, who has researched 101 such schemes across the UK that date back to the 1930s and 1940s and has published his findings on his Bikeboom website, where people can back the project, said he hoped more councils would seek government cash to enable them to restore such infrastructure.

Reid told that the scheme in Leicester, worth £2.2 million and relating to the 1930s cycle track on Melton Road, from Lanesborough Road to the city boundary near the outer ring road, “is one of 10 that were cherry picked for extra design work by John Dales and his team at Urban Movement.”

Deputy city mayor for transport and environment at Leicester City Council, Councillor Adam Clarke, said: “Around 18,000 people make daily journeys by bike in Leicester, but one of the biggest barriers to regular walking and cycling is the need for safe and easy to follow direct routes.

“Creating off-road routes - and more space for pedestrians - means everyone can travel safely by bike or on foot. It’s interesting to note that this is exactly the same issue that led to the creation of segregated cycle lanes in the 1930s.

“As heritage champion for Leicester, I love the fact that we’ll be reviving the city’s past while making travel around the city more sustainable for the future. Sustainable travel means less congestion, less air pollution, better health and a better environment for us all,” he added.

Simon joined 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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Awavey | 1 year ago
1 like

This very clearly highlights the difference in spending between cycling & motoring, 200million for all of England cycling vs 200million on some surfacing improvements on parts of the A12 & A14

If you can ignore the highways guy refers to road users as customers, rolls eyes, it vaguely hints at some "dedicated safe spaces" for cycling.

Owd Big 'Ead | 1 year ago

Hopefully these schemes will be done to a higher standard than the shite Sustrans works to, but £200m goes nowhere in the big scheme of things.

If the government was really serious about active travel they'd be signing off a minimum of £2bn/year.

HarrogateSpa | 1 year ago

Are these the Active Travel Fund 3 allocations?

It's hard to work out what exactly this money is, which councils are receiving it, and for what schemes - because the article and the DfT press release it's based on are close to fact-free.

Awavey replied to HarrogateSpa | 1 year ago
1 like

Agreed, theres a nice youtube video about Active Travel England with Sir Chris of Boardman, but not exactly filled with details about what any of this funding really means.

Heck I'd just like an update/review of what the hell happened in Active Travel Fund 2 allocations, alot of money was handed out,but I've seen very little change locally, or sign of it being spent.

peted76 | 1 year ago

Can't see any mention of any improvements near me (again).. Warwickshire/Coventry)  Would be interested to find out which of the off-road sustrans routes are getting improved.


brooksby | 1 year ago


19 authorities ... will also receive a share of £1.5 million for “mini-Holland” feasibility studies, to assess how the areas could be as pedestrian and cycle-friendly as their Dutch city equivalents.

I'm constantly amazed at how expensive feasibility studies are... 

chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 1 year ago

Hitch Hiker's guide again: "what about this wheel thingy? It sounds a terribly interesting project." "Ah," said the marketing girl, "well, we’re having a little difficulty there." "Difficulty?" exclaimed Ford. “Difficulty? What do you mean, difficulty? It’s the single simplest machine in the entire Universe!" The marketing girl soured him with a look "All right, Mr. Wiseguy," she said, "you’re so clever, you tell us what color it should be."

brooksby replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
1 like

I think I need to take another bath... 

the little onion | 1 year ago

It's not just quantity, we need assurances on quality as well. No good spending this money (a drop in the ocean of transport funding, as others have noted) if it is going to be wasted on rubbish infrastructure. I'm very worried that Sustrans and the Notional Cycling Network is going to get some, given that my local seciton of the NCN includes stairs and sections that cut across muddy fields.

IanMSpencer replied to the little onion | 1 year ago
1 like

I've never understood who the Sustrans target cyclists are. I remember riding down the omnipresent (and pictured) NCR 5 some years ago from south of Birmingham to Oxford, and it directed you along a bridleway which was just a gate into a field with no obvious track, when there was a perfectly servicable lane 50 metres on.

I've never been confident enough in what's provided to plan a route based on them. It's not like they have provided a guide. In fact I note that Sustrans show someone riding route 5 on a narrow-wheeled touring bike with heavily laded panniers on a rough shale track, which is not the sort of touring cycling I would ever have planned to do.


the little onion replied to IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
1 like

IanMSpencer wrote:

I've never understood who the Sustrans target cyclists are.



I strongly suspect that they are the imaginary shrodinger's cyclists, simultaneously confident riding on 60mph country roads but also needing so much protection they need to be directed along circuitous meanders across muddy fields. These are created purely for the imagination of funding meetings at councils, so that Sustrans can hoover up some money and stick up some blue signs, thus justifying their continued existence.


The ideal situation is that cycling infrastructure is safe for a competent 8 year old to use with minimal supervision, on a wet tuesday in february, on a 'normal' bike, along with their 75 year old granny who is on a electric assist trike. 

stonojnr replied to the little onion | 1 year ago
1 like

One of those 1930s routes is near me and its rubbish, not only is it now a classic cycle lane on a path that crosses multiple driveways and side roads. That it exists at all means all drivers treat you like rubbish for daring to ride on the road instead.

Any money spent just on promoting it, because youll never fix the quality issue with it now without demolishing a bunch of houses, is basically flushing cash down the drain.

chrisonabike replied to the little onion | 1 year ago
1 like

Amen brother.  Sustrans have come on quite a bit so I wouldn't pan them straight away.  Sadly I would always scrutinise their suggestions closely though.  That's because of their history of signing off (geddit?) on substandard stuff and instances of seeming to do whatever it took to get into pictures with councils or claim large mileages of infra achieved.

What is not surprising but is a bad sign is we're still saying things like "much-loved" (twice above).  We say that about nice recreational walkways and not about the A9 or distributor roads do we?  Just like government "encouraging" cycling.  What we need is not "lovely" or "nice" or even "exceptional" infra.  Not hundreds of plucky individual efforts via volunteer effort costing the authorities peanuts.  We need pennies in the overall transport pound - Scotland has started at 10p per overall pound.  Even that is too low initially given the problems we've baked in.  In 2015 the Dutch spent 3% of the transport budget on cycling - more details here from 2010 - but that was once they already had the best network in the world and all the supporting systems and standards in place.

We need proven adequate standard infra rolled out using national templates and critera.  It should be mundane because it's ubiquitous and er... standard.  That means everyone can understand and trust it wherever they go.  For example if you know people have been successfully using the round wheel for decades and someone comes by with a "cool" hexagonal one you'd smell snake oil, right?

Charities are great but our railway projects are not devolved to model railway enthusiasts.  Cycling infra needs to be delivered by the same cadre of career bureaucrats and civil servants we have building our other infrastructure.  That itself will mean more costs initially for the UK because our current lot will need retraining.  More important than that their bosses need to understand what's required and need setting new priorities.  We need this to use existing systems so work shouldn't suddenly stop because the "cycling officer" has left and it'll take months or years to find another.  Nor should the task be handed to someone who is totally confident in their ability to design for bikes because "they've done it for cars all their career and cycling design is simpler, just like pedestrian infra".

Grahamd replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago

Sustrans need greater funding and empowerment, rode a section of one of their routes this weekend, surface was broken with tree routes in multiple places and clearly had been neglected for at least a decade.

If this didn't put someone off the next bit would, due a land owner refusing to sell / alllow the natural continuation of the route, it takes a detour which includes over 300 m at 10%. 

eburtthebike replied to Grahamd | 1 year ago

Grahamd wrote:

Sustrans need greater funding and empowerment.......

No.  It needs to be abolished and the government takes it over and funds it properly and gives it proper powers to persuade reluctant land owners to co-operate.

When every other form of transport infrastructure is government funded, why is cycling expected to get by on charity?

chrisonabike replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
Grahamd replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
1 like

When you put like that I have to agree.


eburtthebike | 1 year ago

While this is welcome, it's a drop in the bucket compared to what is required to create joined up networks in our towns and cities.  This amount might be appropriate for a single city to start, and only start, building such a network, but  spread over the country it's insignificant and as we all know, such schemes meet vocal opposition from the petrolheads, who frequently manage to dilute them to be almost useless.

As Secret Squirrel points out, this amount isn't even a single motorway junction, designed solely to increase use of motor vehicles; Private Frazer was right.

On a totally unrelated subject, I've just read that both the EU and UK are re-defining natural gas as "green" for the purposes of investment deals.

Simon E replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago

eburtthebike wrote:

While this is welcome, it's a drop in the bucket compared to what is required to create joined up networks in our towns and cities.

And Sustrans routes have often been anything but 'joined-up'. The routes in Shropshire (e.g. 44, 81) are convoluted, very hilly in places and use narrow, winding lanes - far from practical for everyday transport.

Meanwhile the council approves edge-of-town and out-of-town residential and business developments with no cycling access.

eburtthebike wrote:

I've just read that both the EU and UK are re-defining natural gas as "green" for the purposes of investment deals.

Like the 'green steel' and the bullshit talked about biogas and electric cars like they solve anything. A clubmate told me yesterday that a fellow cyclist has taken delivery of a new Tesla for his company car. Tax breaks mean he's no longer paying the £800/month he paid on his previous car. Quite ridiculous.

By contrast, e-bikes are dismissed as 'leisure toys' (or 'cheating' by insecure strava devotees) despite the many anecdotes of people changing their travel habits once they start using one. But any incentives and promotion will be all in vain until we can make roads more pleasant to ride on or separate infrastructure a realistic option for day-to-day travel.

Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

Just to put that in context.  Its a similar amount to what the Govt spends on 1 major motorway (M25/A3) junction... (£200m-250m)

Climate emergency?  We've heard of it.

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