Government to invest further £175 million in cycling and walking infrastructure
The Government is set to invest a further £175 million into ‘high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure’ across England following overwhelming support to reclaim road space from motor vehicles and give it back to people – cyclists and pedestrians.
This further spending will be part of the wider £2 billion cycling and walking package announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps back in May and is set to focus on decreasing motor traffic around schools at certain times and increasing the number of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods around England.
‘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,’ said Shapps on the announcement.
‘Whether you’re walking, cycling, driving or using public transport, people must have the space they need to get around safely.’
The new funding comes as a result of a recent survey that found 65% of people in England ‘support reallocating road space to cycling and walking in their local area’ while at the same time ‘nearly eight out of 10 people (78%) support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood’.
Further independent polling in London also found that over 50% of residents supported the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme with just 19% opposing it.
This latest wave of money being supplied from the transport office to local councils, however, does come with a set of ‘tough new conditions’ from Shapps centred around seeking proper consultation before implementation after kickback by a loud minority in certain areas following the first round of LTNs.
First introduced at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods looked to use road barriers to restrict certain residential roads from being used as rat runs.
While popular in some areas, some people in other areas were vocal in their apparent dismay at the scheme, notably Lee Green and Hither Green in the London Borough of Lewisham where residents took to protesting the changes claiming the new measures had only increased traffic and pollution in other parts of the borough.
If similar problems are faced in the second round of spending, Transport Secretary Shapps confirmed that future allocations of infrastructure spending would be reduced and even potentially clawed back. Going forward, the plans will also have to be developed with the yet-to-be-formed Active Travel England ‘to ensure they are of the highest quality’.
Supporting the spending is Greater Manchester walking and cycling commissioner Chris Boardman who is calling for a ‘green revolution’.
‘Making it easier for people to get about on foot and by bike is the single best investment that councils can make because it doesn’t just address transport,’ said Boardman.
‘Time and again evidence shows that communities that prioritise cycling and walking enjoy major benefits – cleaner air, less congestion, improved health and even a bigger average monthly spend at local shops and restaurants. Most importantly, it makes our streets happier places to be.
‘I wholeheartedly support the Government’s continued funding of this crucial work. The emphasis on more consultation is welcome too, so that we can ensure the best solutions are put in the right locations.
‘If we get this right, many of these pop-up routes and low-traffic neighbourhoods will become a permanent and valued part of people’s daily lives. The industrial revolution started in Great Britain, now we should lead the green revolution.’
Source: Cycling – Cyclist