Active Travel England launches with remit to promote cycling and walking
The launch of Active Travel England (ATE), the Government's new executive agency to promote cycling and walking, has been announced. Olympic champion cyclist Chris Boardman is to become national commissioner of the agency. £5.5 million of new funding for local authorities, train operators and businesses to encourage various active travel schemes has also been promised.
ATE will be responsible for driving up the standards of cycling and walking infrastructure and managing the national active travel budget, awarding funding for projects that meet the new national 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.
The new agency 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.
As well as approving and inspecting schemes, 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 preliminary work is already underway, scrutinising councils’ plans for active travel and supporting them to create ambitious schemes that will enable more people to walk, wheel and cycle safely.
The £5.5 million of new funding also announced includes:
- 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
Active Travel Commissioner for England Chris Boardman 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."
Active travel campaigners welcomed the announcement. Stephen Edwards, Interim Chief Executive, Living Streets said: “The creation of Active Travel England is a game-changer that will enable and inspire more people to choose healthier and cleaner ways to travel.
The launch of Active Travel England followed soon after the Scottish Government's announcement of further details of its plans to cut car use in Scotland 20% by 2030. See this related news story.
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