Sustrans has welcomed what it describes as “ground-breaking” plans by the Welsh Assembly Government to make it a legal requirement for local authorities to provide cycling and walking routes, with the proposals, contained in the Active Travel (Wales) Bill announced in a White Paper yesterday, described as the first of their kind in the world.
The bill will require local authorities in the principality to devise and deliver safe, traffic-free routes, including cycle paths, that link schools, hospitals and shopping areas, and comes after a five-year campaign from Sustrans Cymru.
The proposals have cross-party support and are also backed by organisations such as the British Medical Association, Royal Mail and BT, as well as the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.
Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of the sustainable transport charity, said: "This is a ground-breaking move by the Welsh government that will help people get around more safely, cheaply and healthily.
"People all over the UK want to cycle and walk more for every day journeys but are held back by safety concerns.
"Walking and cycling are the answers to the UK's rocketing fuel bill and expanding waistline but getting around actively must be made safer and easier across the country."
Responses are invited to the issues addressed in the White Paper, a copy of which can be downloaded at the end of this article, with the Welsh Government canvassing views on whether local authorities should be required to:
- identify and map the network of routes within their areas that are safe and appropriate for walking and cycling
- identify and map the enhancements that would be required to create a fully integrated network for walking and cycling and develop a prioritised list of schemes to deliver the network
- deliver an enhanced network subject to budget availability and following due process
- consider the potential for enhancing walking and cycling provision in the development of new road schemes.
The proposals were formally launched yesterday at the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay by Welsh Transport Minister Carl Sargeant, who said: “The White Paper for the Active Travel Bill sets out an ambitious and radical plan to dramatically increase the numbers of people walking and cycling in Wales.
“I see this Bill as a landmark step in further developing a truly sustainable transport network in Wales and reflects the Welsh Government’s commitment to green transport,” he continued.
“In addition to the obvious health benefits of walking and cycling this Bill will have a positive impact on improving safety for both cyclists and pedestrians, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and reduce congestion within our towns and cities.
“We want to make walking and cycling the most natural and normal way of making short everyday journeys. I would urge people to have their say and get involved in this consultation,” Mr Sargeant added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.