Regional Mayor Tim Bowles and the West of England Combined Authority have secured an additional £2.96 million from the Government for measures to encourage more cycling and walking in the region.
The investment, announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) today (Friday 13 November), will see new safe routes for people to walk and cycle safely built rapidly in 2021.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “It’s fantastic news that the Government have given their full support to our ambitious plans for cycling and walking in the region and we have secured their full financial backing for our plans.
“Creating safe routes for people to walk and cycle so they can get to jobs, education or pop out for everyday essentials is a key part of my plan to get the region moving. We’ve already seen traffic in some parts of the region return to 90% of pre-Covid levels so we need to work hard to create the positive legacy we would all like to see. By securing this extra Government funding, these schemes will help us create a step-change in sustainable transport provision in the West of England.”
The funding comes as a survey by Kantar Media last month reveals 65% of people across England support reallocating road space to cycling and walking in their local area. Nearly eight out of ten people (78%) 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.
“Whether you’re walking, cycling, driving or using public transport, people must have the space they need to get around safely.”
The new funding follows an initial £827,000 allocation made this summer.
Local councils have already been working with WECA to rapidly plan and implement measures such as widening pavements and installing pop up cycle lanes to help people travel safely while social distancing is required.
Through underwriting the cost of these schemes WECA has enabled councils to act quickly in advance of receiving the Government funding. Councils will be consulting with the public on the future proposed schemes as part of the second tranche of funding.
With social distancing in place and capacity on public transport reduced, walking and cycling offers a great way to get around the region while improving your health and helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality.
There is plenty of help to get started on WECA’s ‘joy in the journey’ page on the Travelwest website. It includes advice on how to find one-to-one cycle training or loan bikes to get you back on the bike and tips to help plan your walking or cycling route.