The Government has increased the cycling and walking budget announced at the Spending Review to £338m, in a bid to ensure the ‘active travel boom seen throughout the pandemic will continue to thrive’.
Infrastructure upgrades, changes to The Highway Code and new requirements to ensure the effects of active travel schemes are properly assessed, are among the measures included in the ‘Summer of Cycling and Walking’ document published today (30 July).
The Government says that in 2020 ‘cycling rose more than in the previous 20 years put together’, with the number of miles cycled on British roads increasing by 45.7% to 5bn.
The £338m investment represents a 30% increase to the £257m announced for active travel in the 2020 spending review. It will be used for the construction of hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes and other schemes to encourage walking, including improvements across the National Cycle Network.
Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said: “Millions of us have found over the past year how cycling and walking are great ways to stay fit, ease congestion and do your bit for the environment.
“As we build back greener from the pandemic, we’re determined to keep that trend going by making active travel easier and safer for everyone.
“This £338m package marks the start of what promises to be a great summer of cycling and walking, enabling more people to make those sustainable travel choices that make our air cleaner and cities greener.”
In a bid to enhance safety for cyclists and pedestrians, a new version of The Highway Code will be published in the autumn, with a range of updates including:
- A new ‘hierarchy of road users’ that ensures road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others
- Strengthened pedestrian priority on pavements and when crossing or waiting to cross the road
- Guidance on safe passing distances and speeds, and ensuring that cyclists have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.
The Government is also aiming to increase awareness of e-cycles and tackle barriers to their use, through an ‘e-cycle support programme’ to be launched later this year.
Other measures included in the Summer of Cycling and Walking include plans to publish a new road safety strategic framework and commitments to help train hundreds of new Bikeability instructors and explore how historic railway structures can be converted into cycle routes.
The walking and cycling charity Sustrans has welcomed the Government’s ‘continued focus on cycling and walking’.
Xavier Brice, Sustrans chief executive, said: “This funding will bring major improvements to the National Cycle Network in England by linking communities together and enhancing valued and well-used cycling and walking routes. Most importantly of all, this vital boost will further enable those who want to cycle or walk to do so.
“The pandemic has highlighted the huge benefits of active forms of travel to people’s personal health and wellbeing, to local communities and to the environment.”