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.
£1.7bn to be spent on English roads repairs
The Government will be spending £1.7bn on improving road journeys across England through repairs to local roads. This Department for Transport (DfT) spending commitment comes on top of £2 billion in funding for boosting more sustainable greener travel and encouraging more people to begin cycling and walking.
The Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund will be used to improve roads, repair bridges and fill in potholes across England. The funding will enable works to upgrade local networks, such as enhancing road safety at key locations, the installation of priority bus lanes, and the creation of projects to help lock in improvements in air quality experienced during lockdown.
The DfT hopes allocation of the funding will reduce pressure on local authority staff by removing the need to bid for funding. The funding will be divided up based on the assets for which local highway authorities are responsible.
The Government has also published new guidance to help encourage innovation and improve the way utility street works are carried out.
Bike is Best
Fusion Media of London has persuaded British cycling brands, retailers, and advocacy organizations to get behind the “Bike Is Best” message. Online retailers Chain Reaction Cycles and Wiggle are backing the campaign as are many bike brands. Organizations pledging their support include Sustrans, British Cycling, London Cycling Campaign, and Cycling UK. The Association of Cycle Traders is also backing the message.
Bike Is Best is the most extensive coordinated promotional campaign for cycling since the 1970s. The new campaign’s centerpiece will be an inspirational short film majoring on the freedom of cycling: freedom from fares, freedom from parking charges, freedom from being stuck in traffic congestion, and freedom from the blight of air pollution which is now featuring on YouTube.
Bike Is Best is lending its support to the £2 billion plan to enable local authorities to pay for cycling and walking infrastructure to cater for physical distancing during lockdown and a longer term enhancement to active travel.
The film features a protagonist returning to supposed freedom, only to be met by crowded trains, traffic jams, and endless waiting. The campaign explores what could happen if we choose a better future by cycling and highlights that 68% of U.K. car journeys are under 5 miles.
The campaign (hashtag #BikeIsBest) is the first in almost fifty years. In 1965 the representative bodies for bicycle retailers and bicycle manufacturers jointly raised a levy on all sales to pay for the British Cycling Bureau, which was charged with lifting flagging sales and promote bicycles through a coordinated PR campaign.
In 1972, it launched a “National Plan for Cycling.” George Shallcross, then national director of the retailers’ organization, said that this plan would “press for traffic-free cycleways and to make the authorities, national and local, recognize the bicycle as an asset to the environment, as it is noiseless and fumeless, and takes up so much less room in parking and riding than motorcars.”
The National Plan was promoted to national and local government via a handbook, Before the Traffic Grinds to a Halt which campaigned to “create separate cycleways in towns and cities.” As part of the plan, the Bureau approached the Friends of the Earth “suggesting that its campaign was in line with the Friends’ own objectives.” This approach was “enthusiastically received” and the organizations agreed to work on a “manual for action groups around the country with advice on how to pressurize local councils to institute a cycleway system.”
The British Cycling Bureau was disbanded in the 1970s.
Third of people could cycle
A new poll commissioned by Cycling UK shows 36% of people could rethink their travel habits after lockdown to use motor vehicles less. This was backed up by an AA survey, where a third of motorists said they would walk and cycle more, and 22% would drive less.
But for people to carry on cycling when the Covid-19 crisis is over, they want to see:
- Traffic free cycle tracks and paths to high streets and town centres (63%)
- More designated cycle lanes on roads (53%)
- Traffic restrictions in residential streets (30%)
- A reduction of the speed limit to 20mph in residential and built up areas (24%).