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Government confirms £175 million active travel spend - but it's not new money

DfT says councils will have to consult properly on new spend

The government has today released £175 million in funding to local authorities in England to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians – but it has warned councils that if their plans do not come up to scratch, it will claw back the money.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says that the money – already announced several months ago – will go towards school streets, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), segregated bike lanes, and improvements for pedestrians.

The money – part of the £250 million emergency active travel funding announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps in May – is not new funding, and the DfT is clear that councils that have been allocated funding will have to undertake consultation with local communities to secure funding.

Shapps said: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ”It has been great to see so many people build cycling and walking into their daily travel habits. To support them, we know it’s vital to have the right infrastructure in place so everyone – cyclists, pedestrians and motorists – can use our roads. 

“Whether you’re walking, cycling, driving or using public transport, people must have the space they need to get around safely.”

Councils will, however, need to ensure that their plans are “properly consulted on,” says the DfT, expressing the hope that doing so “will help avoid the problems seen in a minority of the schemes developed in the first round of funding.”

The transport secretary has set out several stipulations for councils seeking funding, saying they must:

publish plans to show how they will consult their communities – including residents, businesses, and emergency services among others

show evidence of appropriate consultation prior to schemes being implemented;

submit monitoring reports on the implementation of schemes 6-12 months after their opening, highlighting how schemes have been modified based on local feedback to ensure they work for communities.

The government also highlighted that interventions designed to encourage active travel, which are increasingly the subject of negative headlines in some parts of the media, have the backing of the majority of the public, saying that "a survey undertaken by Kantar Media last month reveals that 65 per cent of people across England support reallocating road space to cycling and walking in their local area.

"Nearly 8 out of 10 people (78%) support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood."

The DfT added that in London, "ndependent polling by Redfield & Wilton shows 19 per cent of people oppose LTNs, 52 per cent support them and 25 per cent are neutral.

"Surveys are also being conducted of residents in individual LTNs where roads have been closed. The first of these, in south London, found 56 per cent wanted to keep the scheme, against 38 per cent who wanted to remove it."

Ahead of the announcement,  Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at national cyclists charity Cycling UK told road.cc: “!t really shouldn’t be news the majority of people support quieter and safer roads for cycling and walking.

“Survey after survey say exactly this. Hopefully this time councils will take note, because in recent weeks far too many have underestimated support for these schemes, removing cycle lanes the minute a local MP or vocal minority of people raise concerns.

“People want streets that our safer and more attractive, and councils must grasp the opportunity to start delivering this.

“We have to provide alternatives to travelling by car to reduce congestion, improve public health, reduce carbon emissions and just get people moving better,” he added.

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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6 comments

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eburtthebike | 3 years ago
1 like

This was reported on BBC R4 this morning, or rather they reported the views of the DM, just regurgitating the nonsense about cycle lanes causing congestion; no cyclists or cycling organisations quoted, no opposing viewpoint, no balance, no mention of all the benefits of a switch to cycling.  To be fair, they've never mentioned those, ever.

The BBC hates cyclists.

Avatar
Awavey | 3 years ago
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It seems fair enough not to label this emergency funding now, given the consultation requirements we might not see any of this result in changes till early Spring next year now.

And whilst it's not new money (government spending rarely is) its worth remembering no one really had any clue what we'd be spending this on when the government first announced the cycling and walking investment strategy back in February before the pandemic, as part of their 5billion 5 year local transport plans. It was felt the active travel part might fund a few miles of cycle lanes at most,largely in London as always, whereas we are in a situation now where every local authority in the country has made substantive changes,some more successfully than others of course, to roads to promote cycling & active travel.

That's not something anyone predicted would or even could happen.

Of course we want more funding & better cycle lanes & more active travel,but let's not belittle what's been achieved so far.

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Pilot Pete replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
3 likes

You are joking right? 'Substantive' changes - I'm assuming you meant substantial? 

£175m is peanuts spread across the whole country. My wife is Cycling & Walking Champion for Cheshire East. They have had a plan in place, which they have been highly complemented on, which ticked all of the government guidelines/ requirements and they are getting less than £600k total.

£600k. Do you know that a dropped kerb costs them £4k? So they could put in 150 dropped kerbs across the whole county. Cheshire East has 4700km of roads.

Exactly how many infrastructure improvements do you think £600k will fund? It's peanuts.

Meanwhile, the government is spending £3b on just two tunnels for motor vehicles. One at Stonehenge and one at Silvertown in London, neither of which are actually desperately needed and both of which face serious opposition.

PP

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Awavey replied to Pilot Pete | 3 years ago
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no I meant substantive, as in the real rather than apparent meaning, there have been changes we can physically touch,see and use, its not just well meaning words on paper. Within a quick cycle ride of where I live there are now new LTNs, pop up cycle lanes, widened cycle lanes, changes in priority in junctions, all funded by this money, none of it would have happened without it.

Is it enough? no of course not, but as I say its churlish not to recognise what has been accomplished with this money, again some councils have done better than others with it, but without it the grand spend on cycling/active travel schemes outside of London or Manchester would have been next to zero as it has been for countless years, whilst theyd still be spending billions on roads.

600k might not fund much, but its better than nothing, and its a start, a start we can build further on and then keep building on, the more we build the better it becomes and the less the Farages of this world influence people.

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HarrogateSpa replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
1 like

I think what people object to is reannouncing funding that has already been announced.

And no, not every local authority has made changes to promote active travel. North Yorkshire has done precisely nothing for cycling. Nothing. Nothing at all. (They have put some orange cones in Harrogate town centre to widen a couple of pavements).

As it happens, I am quite positive about many aspects of this - the new Cycle Infra Design standards, and the positive messages about active travel from the DfT.

My main reservations are:

  • the hypocrisy of saying you're decarbonising transport with £2bn for buses and bikes, while spending £27bn on new roads, and
  • whether my local authority will actually be capable of delivering the schemes that are being funded; it would be a first if they actually started work on them instead of dithering and delaying for years and years
Avatar
mdavidford replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
0 likes
Awavey wrote:

given the consultation requirements we might not see any of this result in changes

FTFY

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