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South Yorkshire to follow Manchester's lead and appoint an Active Travel Commissioner

Dan Jarvis seeking to make walking and cycling “safe, easy and enjoyable options”

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis says that the “fantastic” work being done by Chris Boardman in Greater Manchester has inspired him to appoint an Active Travel Commissioner, who will work to get more people walking and cycling.

Chris Boardman, the former world and Olympic champion turned cycling campaigner, was named Greater Manchester’s first ever cycling and walking commissioner in July last year.

He has since unveiled ambitious plans for the Beeline network – 1,000 miles of cycling and walking routes, including 75 miles of Dutch-style segregated cycle lanes.

BikeBiz reports that Jarvis has been sufficiently impressed by developments to create a similar position for the Sheffield City Region.

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, he said: “Last week I met Mayor Andy Burnham to learn more about their planned “Beelines” network of safe walking and cycle routes, and will be using this example to inform changes we could make here in South Yorkshire.”

Jarvis says that active travel leads to cleaner air and improved physical and mental health and also points to Department for Transport figures that show active travel schemes can generate a return on investment many times higher than road building schemes

“As people increasingly find it difficult to fit exercise into their daily routine, small changes in the way we travel will make a real impact on our health,” he writes.

“What’s more, it can help you save money, it can help businesses reduce days lost to employee ill-health and it can reduce the pressures on public services – not least our NHS.”

He continues: “So the evidence is clear. But if we want to help more people get active, then we need to make sure walking and cycling are safe, easy and enjoyable options.

“It means having a proper network of routes that people want to use, whether that is as part of their daily commute or simply to get outdoors and enjoy our amazing local environment.

“The time to act is now. That’s why, as Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, I’m pushing forward my commitment to active travel by bringing together some of the best people in the field to work with local groups, politicians and businesses to develop our own approach locally.

“I will be working with Professor Steve Haake, from Sheffield Hallam University’s world-leading Advanced Wellness Research Centre (AWRC), to review active travel strategies from around the world and identify examples of best practice. We can then use these examples to inform our own decision-making here in the Sheffield City Region.”

Although he gives no timeframe for when one will be appointed, he states that the Active Travel Commissioner will be, “at the heart of this.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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kitsunegari | 5 years ago

Lucky (south) Yorkshire.

Now we just need Cambridge City Council to wake up and actually become a cycling city rather than pretending to be as it so often does.

ROOTminus1 | 5 years ago
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The jaded cynic in me wonders how much of this is driven by good old trans-pennine rivalry.

In all seriousness though, Sheffield has always struck me as one of the more progressive cities in the country (generally speaking, on-street tree felling notwithstanding) so I hold some cautious optimism for this producing some tangible benefits. Sheffield currently has stronger ties to the mtb scene, (how many other cities hold an annual dual slalom race in the city centre?) so I wouldn't be entirely surprised if they nominate Steve Peat as their cycling comissioner

burtthebike | 5 years ago
1 like

Excellent news, especially the fact that CB's appointment is already having an effect outside Manchester.  For far too long, our local authorities have had very impressive policies about active travel, but have utterly failed to carry them out, basically because it hasn't been anybody's job to do it.  Hopefully this will be the second of many such appointments, and with someone in charge of pushing active travel, they'll start to make a difference.

Mind you, I can't help being slightly concerned when I remember the wave of cycling officers who were appointed twenty years ago, only to find that they had no power, no budget and no influence.  I'm hoping this will be radically different.

Spike64 | 5 years ago

Although welcome to see another region looking to improve  cycling infrastructure we are never going to have an effective nationwide infrastructure until we have a national strategy.

ktache | 5 years ago

Attempting to replicate Chris may prove problematic.

Beecho replied to ktache | 5 years ago

ktache wrote:

Attempting to replicate Chris may prove problematic.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could: the C100, a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.

Maybe that’s true! I doubt any testing during his era would’ve picked up on it.

CygnusX1 | 5 years ago

Welcome news, although the proof will be in the (Yorkshire) pudding.

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