Councils given £175 million more for cycling and walking

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has given councils across England a further £175 million to create safe spaces for cycling and walking.

The new funds, part of the £2 billion announced for cycling and walking in May, will fund measures which will give people more opportunities to choose cycling and walking for their day-to-day journeys, including:

  • ‘School Streets’, where streets around schools are closed to motorists at school times
  • low-traffic neighbourhoods, where residential side streets are closed to through traffic to stop rat-running
  • segregated cycle lanes
  • pedestrian improvements

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps commented on the announcement: “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.”

To will help avoid the problems seen in a minority of the schemes developed in the first round of funding, the Transport Secretary has set tough new conditions on councils receiving this funding, requiring them to ensure schemes are properly consulted on.

If these conditions are not met by a council, the Transport Secretary has been clear that future funding allocations will be reduced and claw-backs could also be imposed.

As part of the Transport Secretary’s plan to ensure councils develop schemes that work for their communities, he has set out 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

Councils will receive funding based on how well they have complied with the criteria set out by the Transport Secretary in July.

In a letter to council leaders outlining the new funding allocations, the Transport Secretary said that while most schemes were of genuine value in promoting cycling and walking, other schemes implemented through the first tranche of funding had made less meaningful change to the status quo.

The funding comes as a survey undertaken by Kantar Media last month reveals that 65% of people across England support reallocating road space to cycling and walking in their local area.

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

In London, independent polling by Redfield & Wilton shows 19% of people oppose low-traffic neighbourhoods, 52% support them and 25% are neutral.

Surveys are also being conducted of residents in individual low-traffic neighbourhoods, where roads have been closed.

The first of these, in south London, found 56% wanted to keep the scheme, against 38% who wanted to remove it.

Evaluation of early School Streets projects has shown traffic outside schools has reduced on average by 68%, children cycling to school has increased by 51% and harmful vehicle pollution outside schools is down by almost three quarters.