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Government confirms £175 million active travel spend - but it's not new money

DfT says councils will have to consult properly on new spend

The government has today released £175 million in funding to local authorities in England to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians – but it has warned councils that if their plans do not come up to scratch, it will claw back the money.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says that the money – already announced several months ago – will go towards school streets, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), segregated bike lanes, and improvements for pedestrians.

The money – part of the £250 million emergency active travel funding announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps in May – is not new funding, and the DfT is clear that councils that have been allocated funding will have to undertake consultation with local communities to secure funding.

Shapps said: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ”It has been great to see so many people build cycling and walking into their daily travel habits. To support them, we know it’s vital to have the right infrastructure in place so everyone – cyclists, pedestrians and motorists – can use our roads. 

“Whether you’re walking, cycling, driving or using public transport, people must have the space they need to get around safely.”

Councils will, however, need to ensure that their plans are “properly consulted on,” says the DfT, expressing the hope that doing so “will help avoid the problems seen in a minority of the schemes developed in the first round of funding.”

The transport secretary has set out several stipulations for councils seeking funding, saying they must:

publish plans to show how they will consult their communities – including residents, businesses, and emergency services among others

show evidence of appropriate consultation prior to schemes being implemented;

submit monitoring reports on the implementation of schemes 6-12 months after their opening, highlighting how schemes have been modified based on local feedback to ensure they work for communities.

The government also highlighted that interventions designed to encourage active travel, which are increasingly the subject of negative headlines in some parts of the media, have the backing of the majority of the public, saying that "a survey undertaken by Kantar Media last month reveals that 65 per cent of people across England support reallocating road space to cycling and walking in their local area.

"Nearly 8 out of 10 people (78%) support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood."

The DfT added that in London, "ndependent polling by Redfield & Wilton shows 19 per cent of people oppose LTNs, 52 per cent support them and 25 per cent are neutral.

"Surveys are also being conducted of residents in individual LTNs where roads have been closed. The first of these, in south London, found 56 per cent wanted to keep the scheme, against 38 per cent who wanted to remove it."

Ahead of the announcement,  Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at national cyclists charity Cycling UK told road.cc: “!t really shouldn’t be news the majority of people support quieter and safer roads for cycling and walking.

“Survey after survey say exactly this. Hopefully this time councils will take note, because in recent weeks far too many have underestimated support for these schemes, removing cycle lanes the minute a local MP or vocal minority of people raise concerns.

“People want streets that our safer and more attractive, and councils must grasp the opportunity to start delivering this.

“We have to provide alternatives to travelling by car to reduce congestion, improve public health, reduce carbon emissions and just get people moving better,” he added.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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