Leicestershire Emergency Active Travel funding
On 27 May, the Department for Transport wrote to all local authorities launching the first tranche of its £225m Emergency Active Travel Fund, saying the “new funding is designed to help you [local authorities] use pop-up and temporary interventions to create an environment that is safe for both walking and cycling in your area”.
The government has stated that cycling and walking have an essential role in helping to avoid overcrowding on public transport, as they allow people to travel while maintaining social distancing.
Advice for what the councils could build includes temporary segregated cycle lanes, traffic-free streets and meaningful reallocation of road space. The Department made it clear: “Anything that does not meaningfully alter the status quo on the road will not be funded.”
Each council was given an indicative amount of what was available to them, with up to 20% of this sum available in the first tranche of funding.
Analysing the government’s funding announcement for local authorities made on 02 July, Cycling UK has identified 23 councils which received more than the 20%, indicating highly ambitious plans to enable more active travel. A further 33 councils received the full amount of funding available.
Both Leicester and Leicestershire received more than 20%. The county council has an indicative tranche 1 allocation of £300k for the delivery of immediate measures (supports the installation of temporary projects for the COVID-19 pandemic) with a further indicative £1.2m of funding available for tranche 2 (for the creation of longer-term projects). Again, this will be via a bidding process, and, again, the actual sum will only be confirmed once the Government has considered the County’s bid.
The allocations for our local authorities are -
|Final allocation phase 1||Indicative allocation phase 2|
Leicestershire’s approach to transport recovery was set out in a document that can be found here.
The document includes the following:
The Covid-19 epidemic is having an extremely negative impact on the use of the county’s passenger transport system – in the region of a 90 per cent reduction for some services. This reduction is difficult to sustain, even for major bus operators such as Arriva. In some cases, the affected companies responded by reducing timetables and/or combining routes.
The impact on rail usage has been equally dramatic. For example, at the start of lockdown, East Midlands Railway were reporting an above 90 per cent reduction in passenger volumes. The council understands there has been no significant change in volumes since lockdown restrictions began to be eased.
It is also likely that reduced traffic levels both on the road and the footway are likely to have been a significant factor in encouraging walking and cycling during the lockdown.
In early May, the Government announced a £250m emergency active travel fund for measures to support socially-distanced walking and cycling travel, post-lockdown. This is the first stage of a £2 billion Government investment in walking and cycling, which forms part of the Government’s £5 billion of funding it announced for cycling and buses in February 2020.
What we are doing
- Supporting district authorities through the Leicestershire Market Towns Group to introduce social distancing measures in the market towns (using the ERDF funding) and some of the smaller retail centres which are now re-opening.
- Seeking to co-ordinate our approach with neighbouring Leicester City Council as necessary.
- Engaging with the DfT to understand how we can best take advantage of investing in walking and cycling funding.
- Developing physical measures to further encourage walking and cycling. For example, using signage, barriers, and highway markings to reduce road width and provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists to social distance.
- To guide the development of measures, we have developed several themes:
- Reinforce strategic links to major growth and economic sites, including county towns;
- Seek to lock-in Covid-19 traffic reduction benefits and provide benefits to walking and cycling accessibility/connectivity;
- Take the opportunity to trial measures previously suggested;
- Implement measures to re-direct motor vehicle traffic away from town centres and minimise the risk of interactions with greater levels of pedestrians and cyclists
- Contribute towards sustained improvements in air quality.
- Through the Choose How You Move brand, reinforcing messages around walking and cycling and promoting travel by these modes over private car use and passenger transport.
- Continuing to promote existing walking and cycling infrastructure in the county.
- Highlighting opportunities to use Park and Ride sites to park and cycle.
- Considering how best we can collect data to provide evidence to inform future policy and strategy development.
Cycling UK has created a web page that allows members of the public to engage with their councils and also make suggestions as to where improvements for cycling and walking can be made.