Transport secretary Grant Shapps has given councils across England a further £175m to create safe space for cycling and walking, and claims nearly 8 out of 10 people (78%) support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood.
The new money, part of the £2bn announced for cycling and walking in May, will fund measures including:
- School Streets, where streets around schools are closed to motorists at school times;
- low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), where residential side streets are closed to through traffic to stop rat-running;
- segregated cycle lanes;
- pedestrian improvements.
However, the transport secretary has set tough new conditions on councils receiving funding, requiring them to ensure schemes are properly consulted on.
This will help avoid the problems seen in a minority of the schemes developed in the first round of funding. 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.
The DfT cited a survey undertaken by Kantar Media last month which found 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%) support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood.
In London, independent polling by Redfield & Wilton shows 19% of people oppose LTNs, 52% support them and 25% 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% 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.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “We want to do everything we can to make it easy for people to include some activity in their daily routines – whether that’s cycling to work or walking safely to school.
“We can see the public’s strong appetite for greener and more active travel, and this funding will help ensure the right infrastructure is in place to build truly active neighbourhoods.”
Shapps added: “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.”
Reacting to the announcement, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Changing our towns and cities to make them more attractive places to walk and cycle around will have many positive benefits but isn’t something that should be done without a full impact assessment on all road users. Local authorities often have a difficult balancing act between encouraging behaviour change and not negatively affecting drivers and businesses for whom vehicles are a necessity.
“Ensuring local authorities consult on changes is not only an important step for greater buy-in from the public, it also increases the chances of schemes being well-designed for the benefit of all road users and ultimately being successful in the longer term.”