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'Traffic is not a force of nature' Boris Johnson praises success of Low Traffic Neighbourhood and cycle schemes

"For decades we mourned that children no longer played in the street. Now once again, in some places, they do"...

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has praised the success of active travel schemes in reducing the number of cars on the road and said 'traffic is not a force of nature'.

He also explicitly warned critics of LTN's and bike lanes that if they wanted to oppose the initiatives they must at least offer a viable alternative that would combat rising traffic levels.

Mr Johnson made the comments alongside the government's 'Gear Change One Year on' report released yesterday.

He said: "About this time last year, I promised to kick off the most radical change to our city streets since the arrival of mass motoring. Perhaps rather quickly for a government promise, we seem to be achieving it...

"Cycling has increased by more in this one single year than it did over the whole of the previous 20 years.

"The roads are festooned with people wearing colours not found in nature.

"Hundreds of new schemes have created safe space for people to cycle and walk, supported pubs and restaurants that might otherwise have closed, and allowed us to get the exercise we need. For decades we mourned that children no longer played in the street. Now once again, in some places, they do."

The prime minister also condemned critics of Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, some of whom, when the first LTN was announced, marched through the streets with a coffin claiming the plans would lead to the 'death of local shops'. 

He continued: "I know many people think that cycling and walking schemes simply increase car traffic on other roads.

"But there is now increasing evidence that they do not.

"We sometimes think of traffic as like water: if you block a stream in one place, it will find the next easiest way.

"Of course some journeys by car are essential, but traffic is not a force of nature. It is a product of people’s choices. If you make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, more people choose to walk and cycle instead of driving, and the traffic falls overall."

> Department for Transport say councils must give walking and cycling schemes time

The Prime Minister also promised that on active travel this year would increase – from the £257 million announced at last November’s Spending Review to £338m.

The money will be used to invest in more low-traffic neighbourhoods, protected cycle lanes as well as assisting with upgrades to the National Cycle Network.

> Cycle safety in focus as Highway Code changes revealed, including setting out hierarchy of road users

Alongside the well publicised Highway Code changes, the Government also announced a new scheme that aims to increase awareness of e-cycles and help overcome barriers to using them, with an e-cycle support programme to be launched later this year

It will also be looking at how historic railway infrastructure across the country can be turned into cycling routes.

If you wish to read the report, and Mr Johnson's comments in full, you can do so here.

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