Active Travel Bill in Wales to become law after being passed by Welsh Assembly

Legislation has been hailed as a "world first" and an example for the rest of the UK to follow

by Simon_MacMichael   October 1, 2013  

Pont-y-Werin bridge Cardiff (photo: J Bewley/Sustrans)

Wales’s ground-breaking Active Travel Bill is set to become law after being passed by members of the Welsh Assembly at the Senedd in Cardiff this evening.

The Bill, which will then need royal assent before passing into law, will place a legal duty on local authorities to develop and maintain an integrated network of cycling and walking routes.

Sustrans Cymru, which has hailed the Bill as a "world first" has been closely involved in campaigning for the legislation over the past six years.

This evening, the sustainable transport charity's national ditrector for Wales, Jane Lorimer, said: The passing of this legislation shows that Wales’s leadership is serious about making walking and cycling the normal choice for more of our everyday shorter journeys.

“Not only can we cut congestion in our towns and cities, but by getting more people walking and cycling we can save the NHS in Wales tens of millions in tackling preventable diseases caused by our lack of exercise.

“This is an historic day for Wales – change won’t come overnight, but the framework is now in place to make us a cycling nation.”

Earlier this year, in its Get Britain Cycling report, the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group held the Active Travel Bill up as a model that the rest of the UK could follow in encouraging more people to take to their bikes.

Besides making it easier for people, whether on foot or bicycle, to travel between workplaces, hospitals, schools and shops using traffic-free routes or cycle lanes, it also aims to improve the nation’s health by reducing car dependency and encouraging them to get active.

Minister for Culture and Sport John Griffiths, responsible among other things for the promotion of walking and cycling, including the Active Travel Bill, tabled a number of amendments that are aimed at improving the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, including: 

• A duty to promote active travel and to report annually on the activity undertaken

• A requirement on local authorities to report on their progress on the network, level of usage and associated costs

• A requirement on Welsh Ministers to report annually on levels of active travel

• A requirement on highways authorities to take into account the needs of walkers and cyclists when carrying out certain key functions under various highways acts, such as road works.

Mr Griffiths commented: “I am confident that this Bill, if agreed by the Assembly, will make a big difference to the people of Wales.

“By increasing the levels of walking and cycling we can boost our economy, create jobs, increase tourism, improve the health of our nation and cut congestion.

“It gives me great satisfaction to think that we’re leading the way with the Active Travel Bill and that this piece of legislation is attracting envious glances from other parts of the UK.

“With the Bill set to become law later today I believe we have the chance to make Wales a much more of a cycling and walking nation.”

The Active Travel Bill has the broad support of all four parties represented in the Welsh Assembly, controlled by Labour, which has 30 of the 60 seats.

Last year, Sustrans Cymru said the legislation could save the NHS in Wales more than half a billion pounds over the next two decades so long as it is implemented effectively.

“The evidence shows that the easiest way for most people to get more exercise is to build it into their daily routine, but even though most everyday journeys are short, many of us still choose to take the car – in fact 20% of our car journeys are less than one mile,” said the sustainable transport charity’s national director for Wales at the time, Lee Waters.

“The Active Travel Bill aims to get more people walking and cycling for short local trips as part of tackling the obesity epidemic and reducing congestion,” he added.

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Can we substitute safe(r) for integrated?

so unfit, I'm not even fit for nothing!

posted by Izaak30 [109 posts]
1st October 2013 - 17:48

9 Likes

Passed. Needs Royal Assent next but looks like good as law now.

posted by bendertherobot [493 posts]
1st October 2013 - 19:28

10 Likes

Am I the only one who thinks we should be careful what we wish for. I imagine a situation 10 years from now, where we have a large network of cycle lanes, shared use paths, and cycling highways, and as such any cyclist using the normal roads will be a target of abuse and vulnerable to even greater levels of careless and dangerous driving - and then, the final political step, a complete ban on riding bikes on normal roads!

I think I preferred it when politicians didn't debate cycling at all, for fear that we could end up as I've just described!

posted by daddyELVIS [502 posts]
1st October 2013 - 20:31

7 Likes

daddyELVIS wrote:
Am I the only one who thinks we should be careful what we wish for. I imagine a situation 10 years from now, where we have a large network of cycle lanes, shared use paths, and cycling highways, and as such any cyclist using the normal roads will be a target of abuse and vulnerable to even greater levels of careless and dangerous driving - and then, the final political step, a complete ban on riding bikes on normal roads!

I think I preferred it when politicians didn't debate cycling at all, for fear that we could end up as I've just described!

So, you think that a large network of high quality cycle facilities could be a bad thing in case people get abuse from drivers for riding on the road? How would that be different from now, except the part about a large network of high quality cycle facilities? D Oh

Certainly a risk worth taking.

posted by teaboy [238 posts]
1st October 2013 - 22:17

8 Likes

it would be nice wouldn't it. there is a point above. It would be an extension of the current attitude of abuse if we don't use cycle lanes no matter how useless or inappropriate they may be. Riding on the roads could become to regarded as wrong and incidents would have a presumption of guilt, a bit like that which is happening with helmets. One extreme I know but everything should be considered.

posted by mattsccm [293 posts]
1st October 2013 - 22:22

8 Likes

Can the 'If we build safe, separated cycling infrastructure you'll get run off the roads on a club run/commute' VC brigade please go ride a day in the Netherlands?

Then come tell me it's a bad thing to keep HGV's away from kids.

And you know what? even in the incredibly unlikely event that someone did pass a law saying where there was separate infra of 'Dutch' quality it was illegal to cycle on the road parallel, SO_WHAT? We've already got places we can't cycle - they are called motorways. 2% might want to retain access to A-roads so they can go vroom-vroom and make clicking indicator noises while doing a TT. The 98% of the UK who don't cycle, ever, see your loss as an acceptable one if that's the tradeoff to get proper bike paths.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [811 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 8:56

7 Likes

This is where we start. From there we build.

Am I torn about the slight potential that I won't be allowed on the Bwlch? Not in the slightest. It won't happen.

But, as someone who cycles 18 miles each way, I welcome this with open arms. If there were a series of paths that kept me away from the murderous hordes I would cycle every single day. As it is I cycle 90% of the time but this would be the masterstroke. Hell, I'd even do the deep snow on the MTB.

And, when the groundswell reaches critical mass, when commuting by bike is entirely normal, the numbers will be too difficult to argue against. Eventually we'll reach the point where driving will be seen as anti social.

posted by bendertherobot [493 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 9:44

8 Likes

It's instructive to ride in NL for a bit. The roads you're kept off are the sort I prefer to avoid anyway (and I'm a "vehicular cyclist" who can and does do fast dual carriageway and teach it as an instructor, so I'm not a shrinking violet scared of roads), and you're kept on a typically less crowded, equally direct, clean, well surfaced alternative.

And there's actually plenty of places like rural back roads cyclists like where you just use the roads anyway.

If the Dutch system was bad then some folk on motor-scooters who should be on the roads wouldn't choose to break the law and use the cycle paths instead!

Pete Clinch
often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

posted by pjclinch [75 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 10:06

6 Likes

It's well worth having a read of this: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2011/02/all-those-myths-and-excuses...

We need to ensure that anything built is of HIGH QUALITY, otherwise it's just another waste.

posted by teaboy [238 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 10:15

10 Likes

daddyELVIS wrote:
Am I the only one who thinks we should be careful what we wish for. I imagine a situation 10 years from now, where we have a large network of cycle lanes, shared use paths, and cycling highways, and as such any cyclist using the normal roads will be a target of abuse and vulnerable to even greater levels of careless and dangerous driving - and then, the final political step, a complete ban on riding bikes on normal roads!

I think I preferred it when politicians didn't debate cycling at all, for fear that we could end up as I've just described!

You are missing the point, currently segregated cycle facilities are terrible, so terrible that you can't imagine the alternative of them being useable! But if councils took cycling seriously then they could be.

The cycle paths in the netherlands are so good that they even hold races on them. The "club run" wouldn't bother with the roads.

This is brilliant news.

posted by P3t3 [129 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 10:17

7 Likes

P3t3 wrote:
daddyELVIS wrote:
Am I the only one who thinks we should be careful what we wish for. I imagine a situation 10 years from now, where we have a large network of cycle lanes, shared use paths, and cycling highways, and as such any cyclist using the normal roads will be a target of abuse and vulnerable to even greater levels of careless and dangerous driving - and then, the final political step, a complete ban on riding bikes on normal roads!

I think I preferred it when politicians didn't debate cycling at all, for fear that we could end up as I've just described!

You are missing the point, currently segregated cycle facilities are terrible, so terrible that you can't imagine the alternative of them being useable! But if councils took cycling seriously then they could be.

The cycle paths in the netherlands are so good that they even hold races on them. The "club run" wouldn't bother with the roads.

This is brilliant news.

Except this is Wales, not the Netherlands - I'd be interested to see how well thought-out the new cycle lanes will be. I'm willing to bet that they suddenly end at narrower points where cars would become inconvenienced, direct cyclist up the inside of queued traffic at the risk of a left-hooker, and direct cyclists off busy roundabouts and instead get them to cross the roads entering and exiting the roundabout. And when an experienced cyclist chooses not to use such poorly designed 'infrastructure', then the abuse will start - "you shouldn't be on the road you ******", "you don't pay road tax, you ******* ****", "move over or I'll ******* run you off the ******* road", etc. I think the cycling paradise you're picturing will not happen. Also, consider the amendment where authorities have to report on usage and cost - you can bet that usage will be viewed as too low and cost to high, which will mean cuts, and poor maintenance. I live in Bristol, the so-called 'Cycling City' - nothing much has changed here for all the millions of pounds that was ring-fenced for cycling. I'd like to know which interested parties have lined their pockets with that money!

posted by daddyELVIS [502 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 11:31

8 Likes

The idea is good, but.

Maintainance, who is going to sweep the glass, leaves, rubbish etc from the paths.

Is there a minimum width?

How will these paths integrate into the wider urban landscape, a crap path from somewhere to somewhere is far better than a good path from nowhere to nowhere.

Will the path actually go from a to b or will it go ten miles out of its way to catch c,d,e,f and g?

Finally, how will drivers then see cyclists on roads where there is no path, there will always be a need to cycle on the road. Think of it like train travel, you don't catch a train from door to door, you won't be able to use cycle paths from door to door in all cases.

I have my concerns that what will be provided will be a lowest cost solution, but one that will make some drivers feel more entitles to the road and more agressive towards cyclists.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1715 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 12:58

9 Likes

Why oh why can people not wear helmets corectly?
Just look at the kid in the front!

I agree with the sentiments against segregation, total segregation not the way forward. Traffic free routes bypassing busy junctions etc a step forward. Understanding of different user needs. Acceptance by motor vehicle pilots that they can no longer go where they want at whatever speed they want, whenever they want would be much better.

Oh, and to stay out of cycle lanes if they don't want us riding in front of them.At Wits End

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [425 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 13:07

8 Likes

Applause Applause Thumbs up from me for all towns and inner cities

posted by Roberj4 [207 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 15:12

7 Likes

teaboy wrote:
We need to ensure that anything built is of HIGH QUALITY, otherwise it's just another waste.

This is my greatest fear.

From a Times article on the new legislation:

Quote:
In his speech at the Conservative Party conference yesterday, Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, said that this Government had invested “more in cycling than ever before”. Yet the pledge last month of £94 million for nationwide cycling projects over the next three years amounts to just 0.2 per cent of the Department for Transport’s budget over the same period.

0.2%, of a total budget of £47,000 million.

To put the £94 million up against to other projects: top taxwasters Shropshire Council and our dim-witted MP want us to waste in excess of £100 million on a single unnecessary 4-mile ring road for Shrewsbury (we already have a dual carriageway the other side).

If past experience is anything to go by we can expect years of legal wrangling, multiple redesigns and lots of forelock-tugging to appease the roadhog lobby. The only people who do well will be the consultants. The cycle paths, shared with pedestrians and too narrow, will still have 'Cyclists Dismount' signs at side roads, they will stop without warning or any indication of where or even if they resume and you'll have to join or cross a busy road.

I hope and pray I'm wrong but while the Tories (who have no interest in cycling, public health or active travel) are in power the above scenario is, sadly, the very best we can hope for. And they'll say "Look at all the money we spent on cycling!"
Sad

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2257 posts]
2nd October 2013 - 16:37

10 Likes

Fast forward to December and the same Welsh Government has just finished conducting a sham of a consultation on a new route around Newport - the only proposal to vote for being a 6 lane motorway through a wildlife haven. No consideration for other forms of transport other than the motorway using kind. No consideration that traffic volumes are down year on year. No consideration that fast tracking everything around a city whose heart is decaying will just further hasten it. They won't even extend the railway line they reopened from the Gwent valleys to actually go into Newport Central Station thus easing commuter traffic.

Like their 'committment' to sustainable development it is just words on paper.

posted by IHphoto [112 posts]
18th December 2013 - 1:30

4 Likes