Like this site? Help us to make it better.


£33 million funding to help councils across England build network of active travel experts

DfT also pledges to involve local communities more in shaping schemes aimed at getting more people cycling and walking

The ​Department for Transport (DfT) has announced funding of £32.9 million to help councils across England build a network of active travel experts to help the government realise its ambition of getting more journeys made by cycling or walking, and has pledged to give local communities more of a say in shaping schemes aimed at encouraging more journeys to be made by bike or on foot.

Besides helping fund the creation of hundreds of new jobs throughout the country, the DfT says that the funding will also help councils train existing councillors and staff as well as providing money for network planning and for public engagement exercises such as consultations.

Announcing what it calls Capability Fund, which it says is additional to previously-announced investment in active travel, the DfT puts a strong emphasis on involving local communities in the decision-making process surrounding proposed schemes aimed at encouraging active travel.

It says that “The investment will help local authorities in England design, develop and consult on high-quality active travel schemes that work for residents and consider the local road network.

“These can include new school safety zones to encourage active travel, improved walking and cycling infrastructure on local high streets as well as new cycle and wheelchair paths.”

Training councillors and local authority staff on such schemes, as well as creating up to 1,300 new jobs focused on delivering active travel initiatives and encouraging councils to take into account local factors is likely to be partly motivated by the small but vociferous opposition that efforts to curb motor traffic and encourage people to walk and cycle more often face.

Chris Boardman, National Active Travel Commissioner for England, pointed out that public engagement exercises including consultations typically show strong backing for such initiatives.

“If we want to enable hundreds of thousands more people to walk, wheel and cycle for everyday trips then we need to deliver high-quality schemes that make it feel easy, fun and safe,” he said.

“Of course, ensuring the right technical skills are in place at a local level is vital but so is engagement. Survey after survey has shown strong community support for making space for active travel but it’s vital that people get strong input into helping to decide what is the right solution for their area.”

> Government’s second cycling and walking investment strategy outlines almost £4bn funding for active travel – and aims to double the number of cycling trips by 2025

According to the DfT, safety will be “the major focus for the new designs and routes,” citing research that consistently shows that the biggest barrier to getting more women cycling, for example, is the lack of safe infrastructure for people on bikes.

Jesse Norman, Minister for Decarbonisation and Technology at the DfT, whose portfolio includes active travel,  said: “Leaving the car and walking and cycling instead is an easy way to get fit, save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

“Better designed schemes, which take into account the views of local people will help deliver improvements that have widespread local support.

“Skills training and local community engagement will help local authorities to make active travel an attractive choice for getting around.”

Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans, said that the sustainable transport charity “is pleased to see this investment in training and community engagement which will ultimately lead to high-quality infrastructure developments across England that help people choose to use their cars less.

“This funding is crucial in ensuring that travelling actively is a safe and accessible option for all, particularly as we work towards the government’s goal of 50 per cent of all journeys in towns and cities being walked or cycled by 2030.

“We’re looking forward to seeing ambitious plans being brought to life and continuing our work to support our local authorities in doing so,” he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Latest Comments