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Chris Boardman confirmed as permanent National Active Travel Commissioner

The Olympic champion will be joined at Active Travel England by longstanding safer streets advocate Danny Williams and Louise Wilkinson

Chris Boardman has been confirmed as the permanent head of Active Travel England, the governmental body tasked with implementing the Gear Change strategy, after serving as its interim commissioner since January.

The former world and Olympic champion cyclist turned cycling and walking campaigner has been appointed with immediate effect and will be joined in August by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Danny Williams and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Louise Wilkinson.

Williams has 25 years of experience leading media businesses, but has become known in cycling circles for his Cyclists in the City blog and his longstanding campaign to make streets safer for people on bikes, which has involved sitting on Transport for London’s Roads Task Force when Boris Johnson was Mayor of the city.

Wilkinson has previously worked in strategic finance and accounting within the civil service and local government, including a recent spell as Deputy Director of Finance in the Cabinet Office.

> Chris Boardman heads newly-launched government body Active Travel England 

Graham Grant, currently Assistant Director of Transport at Newcastle City Council, will also be making the move to Active Travel England as its Director of Planning and Development in the autumn. He joins Brian Deegan, one of the UK’s leading street design engineers and co-author of the London Cycling Design Standards, who was announced as Director of Inspections in May 2022.

“Today’s appointments are another great step for Active Travel England as it continues to make sure getting around our towns and cities on foot or by bike is an easy and attractive option,” says Cycling Minister Trudy Harrison.

“Chris, Danny, Louise and the rest of the incoming team are hugely respected experts in their field and are dedicated to making people-friendly streets a reality. I wish them every success and will do all I can to support them.”

Boardman said: “I am thrilled to be announced as permanent National Active Travel Commissioner and to be given this incredible opportunity. To help change the travel culture of a nation is by far the most important thing I have ever, or will ever, be involved in.

“For cycling and walking to become the natural choice for shorter journeys, people must feel safe and the options must be easy.

“Active Travel England aims to help local authorities across the country deliver that environment, so that people can get to schools, shops and workplaces under their own steam. That’s the kind of place people want to live and the freedoms they want for their children.”

Launching the new government agency in January, the Department for Transport said that Active Travel England, which will be based in York, “will be responsible for driving up the standards of cycling and walking infrastructure and managing the national active travel budget, awarding funding for projects that improve both health and air quality.”

The new entity “will also begin to inspect, and publish reports on, highway authorities for their performance on active travel and identify particularly dangerous failings in their highways for cyclists and pedestrians.

“As well as approving and inspecting schemes,” it will also “help local authorities, training staff and spreading good practice in design, implementation and public engagement. It will be a statutory consultee on major planning applications to ensure that the largest new developments properly cater for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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