The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a £200 million fund to improve crossings and junctions for schools, high streets and main roads. This will help promote walking and cycling, reduce emissions and ultimately help to create a better environment and a stronger economy in local areas.
- Funding will improve crossings and junctions to increase safety, in consultation with local residents and businesses
- Investment in active travel will grow the economy by improving transport links, boosting high streets and creating skilled jobs
Local authorities in England are now being granted the opportunity to apply for funding to make changes to facilitate active travel. These changes could involve constructing paths in rural areas, making routes to school safer for children, and improving safety for those walking and cycling at junctions. Additionally, the money will be used to create more inclusive street designs for those in wheelchairs and mobility scooters. This will enable people to save money and stay healthy by opting for active travel.
Local residents and businesses will be consulted to ensure active travel schemes are safe and beneficial to the local community. Later this year, successful projects will be announced. To ensure quality and effectiveness, guidance has been created to help local authorities develop these projects.
Sustrans, a charity focused on walking and cycling, has calculated that active travel could generate an estimated £36.5 billion for the economy in 2021. This investment would lead to increased spending on high streets, reduced pressure on the NHS and better access to jobs, and could produce up to 16 million extra walking and cycling trips each year.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said:
“This £200 million investment for hundreds of upgraded routes and paths across the country will help to reduce emissions, boost local economies, and create jobs.
“These new schemes will make it safer for children to walk to school and will better connect rural communities, helping more people choose active travel as an affordable and healthy way to get around.”
Previous funding rounds saw a new cycle lane built in Coventry which generated 10,000 trips in its first month and a new walking and cycling route in Manchester where people travelling on foot and by bike are separated from motor vehicles.
Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman said:
“Active travel is convenient, cheap, low carbon and health-giving. It’s a choice we need to make sure everyone has. Sometimes it only takes relatively small changes, such as crossings on school routes or convenient places to park a bike, to give us the option to walk, wheel or ride.
“Our job is to help local authorities across the country ensure that everyone has more attractive options for their daily trips and we are excited to help them deliver those options.”
This investment is intended to encourage more young people to choose a healthier and greener form of travel from their home to school. Currently, less than half of children aged 5 to 16 walk or cycle to school, but the government has set a target for 55% of all primary school children to walk to school by 2025. This funding should help to achieve this goal.
Studies show that one in two women feel unsafe walking in a quiet street near their home after dark. Local authorities proposed schemes will need to show that they take women’s safety into account.
With communication from Maggie Sheldon, Department for Transport