Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis says that the “fantastic” work being done by Chris Boardman in Greater Manchester has inspired him to appoint an Active Travel Commissioner, who will work to get more people walking and cycling.
Chris Boardman, the former world and Olympic champion turned cycling campaigner, was named Greater Manchester’s first ever cycling and walking commissioner in July last year.
He has since unveiled ambitious plans for the Beeline network – 1,000 miles of cycling and walking routes, including 75 miles of Dutch-style segregated cycle lanes.
BikeBiz reports that Jarvis has been sufficiently impressed by developments to create a similar position for the Sheffield City Region.
Writing in the Yorkshire Post, he said: “Last week I met Mayor Andy Burnham to learn more about their planned “Beelines” network of safe walking and cycle routes, and will be using this example to inform changes we could make here in South Yorkshire.”
Jarvis says that active travel leads to cleaner air and improved physical and mental health and also points to Department for Transport figures that show active travel schemes can generate a return on investment many times higher than road building schemes
“As people increasingly find it difficult to fit exercise into their daily routine, small changes in the way we travel will make a real impact on our health,” he writes.
“What’s more, it can help you save money, it can help businesses reduce days lost to employee ill-health and it can reduce the pressures on public services – not least our NHS.”
He continues: “So the evidence is clear. But if we want to help more people get active, then we need to make sure walking and cycling are safe, easy and enjoyable options.
“It means having a proper network of routes that people want to use, whether that is as part of their daily commute or simply to get outdoors and enjoy our amazing local environment.
“The time to act is now. That’s why, as Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, I’m pushing forward my commitment to active travel by bringing together some of the best people in the field to work with local groups, politicians and businesses to develop our own approach locally.
“I will be working with Professor Steve Haake, from Sheffield Hallam University’s world-leading Advanced Wellness Research Centre (AWRC), to review active travel strategies from around the world and identify examples of best practice. We can then use these examples to inform our own decision-making here in the Sheffield City Region.”
Although he gives no timeframe for when one will be appointed, he states that the Active Travel Commissioner will be, “at the heart of this.”