Developing and maintaining safe cycle routes is to be made a legal obligation for local councils in Wales, in “ground-breaking” plans set out by the Welsh Assembly (The Times).
Traffic-free routes for pedestrians and safe cycle lanes will be developed across Wales to connect sites such as hospitals, shopping centres and schools as part of the Active Travel (Wales) Bill, launched as a White Paper today (10 May).
Cycling campaigners are calling for similar legislation to be adopted throughout Britain, according to The Times. While the Department for Transport wrote to local councils across the UK in February to “encourage” them to “review” their provisions for cyclists, the Bill proposed by the Welsh Assembly would make it a legal requirement for councils to plan “fully integrated transport networks”.
Carl Sargent, the Welsh transport minister, said that the Bill would improve public health, reduce emissions, boost tourism and provide an economic benefit in deprived areas.
He told The Times: “Making Wales bike friendly has got to be good for the economy and the health minister is very interested in the health benefits of getting people active.
“It can also help tackle poverty and deprivation, giving easy access to places of employment, especially when integrated with buses and train services. If we can get the whole package, it offers so much support for our community.
“We want to make walking and cycling the most natural and normal way of making short everyday journeys. I would urge people to have their say and get involved in this consultation.”
The Bill will not pass into legislation until the end of 2013, but an £11m annual fund already exists in Wales to promote infrastructure for walking and cycling.
Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of the Sustrans cycling charity, said: “This is a ground-breaking move by the Welsh Government that will help people get around more safely, cheaply and healthily.
“If this was implemented across the UK, it would set us on a path to achieving a lot of what The Times has been working towards with its Cities fit for cycling campaign.”
Click here to read the full The Times report.