Councils across the West Midlands have secured a further £17.4 million to create safe space for cycling and walking – as surveys and independent polls show strong public support for high-quality schemes.
The new money, part of the £2 billion announced for cycling and walking in May, will fund measures including School Streets, where streets around schools are closed to motorists at school times; Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), where residential side streets are closed to through traffic to stop rat-running; segregated cycle lanes; and pedestrian improvements. These will give people more opportunities to choose cycling and walking for their day-to-day journeys, as part of wider government plans to boost active travel.
However, the Transport Secretary has set tough new conditions on councils receiving funding, requiring them to ensure schemes are properly consulted on. This will help avoid the problems seen in a minority of the schemes developed in the first round of funding. If these conditions are not met by a council, the Transport Secretary has been clear future funding allocations will be reduced, and clawbacks could also be imposed.
The funding comes as a survey by Kantar Media last month reveals 65 per cent of people across England support reallocating road space to cycling and walking in their local area. Nearly eight out of ten people support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:“We want to do everything we can to make it easy for people to include some activity in their daily routines – whether that’s cycling to work or walking safely to school.
“We can see the public’s strong appetite for greener and more active travel, and this funding will help ensure the right infrastructure is in place to build truly active neighbourhoods.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “It has been great to see so many people build cycling and walking into their daily travel habits. To support them, we know it’s vital to have the right infrastructure in place so everyone – cyclists, pedestrians and motorists – can use our roads.”
Councils will receive funding based on how well they have complied with the criteria set out by the Transport Secretary in July. In a letter to council leaders outlining the new funding allocations, the Transport Secretary said that while most schemes were of genuine value in promoting cycling and walking, other schemes implemented through the first tranche of funding had made less meaningful change to the status quo.
Mr Shapps said he had in mind many of the pavement widenings put in town centres by many councils using barriers. These, he said, could “prevent pedestrians from crossing the road, cause congestion for buses and motor traffic, and impede access for kerbside businesses,” yet were also “relatively little used by pedestrians”.