Cycling and walking networks to be upgraded with £23 million of funding
Across the UK many will benefit from upgrades to existing cycle routes and improved cycleway connectivity, creating a safe, accessible and traffic-free network.
Communities across the UK are set to benefit from a £23 million investment to rejuvenate cycling and walking.
In the Department for Transport’s latest step to drive down emissions and improve safety, Cycling Minister Jesse Norman has announced £21 million to improve significant on- and off-road stretches of the 16,000-mile National Cycle Network.
A further £2 million will encourage more people to cycle and walk, particularly children and young people, so that greener travel choices are the norm; helping to clean up the air.
Jesse Norman, Transport Minister, said: “Cycling and walking are a key part of our plans to make transport cleaner, greener and more productive. This funding will help ensure that everyone can enjoy wonderful routes which connect communities across the UK, and benefit from the huge health and environmental benefits of cycling.”
The investment, the allocation of which will be managed by cycling and walking charity Sustrans, will fund dozens of activation projects for upgrading the network, including:
- Refurbishing and upgrading Cinder Track North in Whitby to improve access to a substantial new housing development
- Converting a poor on-road section of the NCN between Dewsbury and Huddersfield to a combination of traffic free and full segregation
- Connecting current paths through the centre of Lincoln
- Re-routing busy on-road sections with poor junction facilities to an alternative traffic-free route in Longbridge, Birmingham
- Creating a new quiet-way route to replace a busy on-road section between Luton and Dunstable
- Improving a road crossing and re-routing to traffic-free alternatives around Ashton Court in Bristol
- Improving and extending paths connecting Thatcham and Newbury.
It is estimated that the health benefits associated with walking and cycling on the network prevented 630 early deaths in 2017 alone, and averted nearly 8,000 serious long-term health conditions.
Alongside this, the Department for Transport announced £2 million for broader cycling and walking initiatives.
These include the Living Streets Walk to School outreach programme, which encourages young people to make walking a key part of their journeys from an early age. The scheme saw walking to school rates increase by 30 per cent in 2018 within schools supported by the scheme, a big step towards the government target of 55 per cent of primary school children walking to school by 2025.
Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival will receive investment to continue its work inspiring the 42 per cent of people who own bikes but do not cycle, to start riding.
Xavier Brice, Chief Executive of Sustrans, said: “As the custodians of the National Cycle Network we are very excited by this investment in transforming crucial links for communities across England, making it easier for everyone to walk and cycle.
“The network already makes it possible for 4.4 million people to travel actively every year, to work, school or for leisure. This investment is a vital boost to achieving a network of safe paths for everyone, used and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.
“We look forward to working with local authorities and partner organisations around the country to improve people’s health, access to green spaces, and help our villages, towns and cities move sustainably.”
These measures are the latest in a series of actions taken by the department to reduce emissions across all modes of transport.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of Living Streets, said: “Nationally the number of children walking to school has fallen significantly over recent years. However, in schools where successful initiatives like WOW are in place, we are seeing more families choose active and sustainable ways to travel.
“Walking to school helps children stay active and build healthy habits for life, which is incredibly important at a time when a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese.
“We are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of air pollution on our children’s health – stunting their lung development and increasing the risk of asthma attacks. One in four cars during peak hours are on the school run and the toxic fumes they produce stay around the school gates long after the cars have left. We need to be making it possible for families to swap to healthier forms of travel and this funding will go a long way to doing that in these local authority areas.”