A £2 billion package of support has been announced to create a new era of greener, active transport.
Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England within weeks as part of a £250 million emergency active travel fund – the first stage of a £2 billion investment, as part of the £5 billion in new funding announced for cycling and buses in February.
Following unprecedented levels of walking and cycling across the UK during the pandemic, the plans will help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport when they need to travel, making healthier habits easier and helping make sure the road, bus and rail networks are ready to respond to future increases in demand.
The government will fund and work with local authorities across the country to help make it easier for people to use bikes to get around. Fast-tracked statutory guidance already in effect, will tell councils to reallocate roadspace for significantly-increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. In towns and cities, some streets could become bike and bus-only while others remain available for motorists. More side streets could be closed to through traffic, to create low-traffic neighbourhoods and reduce rat-running while maintaining access for vehicles.
Vouchers will be issued for cycle repairs, to encourage people to get their old bikes out of the shed, and plans are being developed for greater provision of bike fixing facilities. Many more will take up the Cycle to Work scheme, which gives employees a discount on a new bike.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: During this crisis, millions of people have discovered cycling – whether for exercise or as a means of safe, socially-distanced transport. When the country does get back to work we need those people to stay on their bikes and be joined by many more.
We know cars will continue to remain vital for many, but as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.
An updated Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will be launched by the Prime Minister in the summer, with further measures to transform cycling and walking to deliver the government’s aims to double cycling and increase walking by 2025 – including:
- the creation of a national cycling and walking commissioner and inspectorate
- higher standards for permanent infrastructure across England
- getting GPs to prescribe cycling and exercise
- creating a long-term budget for cycling and walking similar to what happens for roads
Local MP, Gillian Keegan said, better green transport networks benefit us all; improving health and wellbeing as well as the wider environment. The coronavirus has been the greatest challenge for our country for a generation – but it has also shown us how the air can be cleaner and the world a little quieter. I hope this momentum towards a more sustainable and green way of life continues when life returns to normal. It has been a priority Government’s to get more of us getting around on our own steam and these new measures are a positive step in the right direction.
Roger Elkins, WSCC Cabinet Member for Transport said: “We welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State for Transport and await further details of the Government’s strategy and how much extra funding West Sussex will receive to enhance facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. It will be important that the funding matches the ambition.
“Our West Sussex Walking and Cycling Strategy, 2016-2026, already sets out our aims and objectives for walking and cycling in the county and shows the importance we place on these modes of transport. We have also been working closely with colleagues in the District and Borough Councils and the South Downs National Park Authority to develop Local Cycling and Walking Improvement Plans across West Sussex. These plans put us in a good place to understand where new facilities will be of most benefit.”