Active Travel England announces £200 million to improve walking and cycling routes

Posted: 6 February 2023 | | No comments yet

The £200 million investment in active travel will help grow the local economy by improving transport links, boosting high streets and creating skilled jobs across England.

Active Travel England announces £200 million to improve walking and cycling routes

Schools, high streets and main roads will benefit from improved crossings and junctions to support walking and cycling, reduce emissions and boost local economies, due to a £200 million fund announced on 6 February 2023.

Active Travel England is now inviting local authorities in England to apply for funding to make improvements to enable people to choose active travel, which can help them save money and stay healthy. Schemes could include:

  • Creating more paths in rural areas
  • Developing safer routes for children to walk to school
  • Improved safety at junctions for people walking and cycling.

Funding will also be used to support people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters by making street designs more inclusive.

Projects will be designed in consultation with residents and businesses to ensure schemes are safe and work for local communities. The successful projects will be announced in late 2023. Guidance has been created to help local authorities develop active travel schemes that are well-designed and completed to a high standard.

Walking and cycling charity Sustrans has estimated that active travel generated £36.5 billion for the economy in 2021 through increased spending on high streets, reduced pressure on the NHS and better access to jobs. This investment could also generate up to 16 million additional walking and cycling trips a year.

Accelerating active travel with e-scooters and e-bikes

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “This £200 million investment for hundreds of upgraded routes and paths across the country will help to reduce emissions, boost local economies and create jobs. These new schemes will make it safer for children to walk to school and will better connect rural communities, helping more people choose active travel as an affordable and healthy way to get around.”

Previous funding rounds have seen a new cycle lane built in Coventry, which has generated 10,000 trips in its first month and a new walking and cycling route in Manchester, where people travelling on foot and by bike are separated from motor vehicles.

Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman said: “Active travel is convenient, cheap, low carbon and health-giving. It’s a choice we need to make sure everyone has. Sometimes it only takes relatively small changes, such as crossings on school routes or convenient places to park a bike, to give us the option to walk, wheel or ride. Our job is to help local authorities across the country ensure that everyone has more attractive options for their daily trips and we are excited to help them deliver those options.”

The funding could see more young people choosing a healthier and greener way to travel from home to the classroom. With less than half of children aged five to 16 walking or cycling to school, this investment aims to boost uptake. The UK government’s objective is to enable 55% of all primary school children to walk to school by 2025.

In addition, studies show that one in two women feel unsafe walking after dark in a quiet street near their home. Local authorities will also need to show that their proposed schemes take women’s safety into account.