A new executive agency has been launched to drive up the standards of cycling and walking infrastructure – alongside £5.5 million in funding for active travel schemes.
The establishment of Active Travel England (ATE), which launched on 24 January, is part of the Government’s ‘unprecedented commitment’ of £2 billion for cycling and walking over this parliament.
The agency will also have responsibility for managing the national active travel budget, awarding funding for projects that meet the standards set out in 2020.
It will inspect finished schemes and ask for funds to be returned for any that have not been completed as promised or have not started or finished by the stipulated times.
ATE will also begin to inspect, and publish reports on, highway authorities for their performance on active travel, and ‘identify particularly dangerous failings’ in their highways for cyclists and pedestrians.
In addition, ATE will help local authorities to train staff in spreading good practice in design, implementation and public engagement.
It will be a statutory consultee on major planning applications to ensure that the largest new developments properly cater for pedestrians and cyclists.
The new body will be headquartered in York from summer 2022 and be led by Chris Boardman, who takes on the role of interim active travel commissioner for England.
He said: “The positive effects of high levels of cycling and walking are clearly visible in pockets around the country where people have been given easy and safe alternatives to driving. Perhaps most important of all, though, it makes for better places to live while helping both the NHS and our mission to decarbonise.
“The time has come to build on those pockets of best practice and enable the whole nation to travel easily and safely around their neighbourhoods without feeling compelled to rely on cars. I’m honoured to be asked to lead on this and help deliver the ambitious vision laid out in the government’s Gear Change strategy and other local transport policies.
“This will be a legacy we will be proud to leave for our children and for future generations. It’s time to make it a reality – it’s time for a quiet revolution.”
Meanwhile, the Government has also announced £5.5 million of new funding for local authorities, train operators and businesses to encourage various active travel schemes.
- a £300,000 top-up to e-cargo bike schemes
- £3 million to improve cycling infrastructure around train stations
- £2.2 million to explore active travel on prescription schemes
Trudy Harrison, active travel minister, said: “Cycling and walking are not only beneficial for our health and the environment, but can also be great fun and is a brilliant way to connect communities.
“This funding is about giving people across the country the opportunity to try different forms of travel, as well as supporting local businesses with the transition to greener transport. I’m very much looking forward to working with our new active travel commissioner to improve standards for everyone.”