Far more people will be cycling and walking thanks to plans to boost greener, active transport, launched today by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps .
Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England within weeks as part of a £250m emergency active travel fund – the first stage of a £2bn investment.
Following unprecedented levels of walking and cycling across the UK during the pandemic, the plans will help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport when they need to travel, making healthier habits easier and helping make sure the road, bus and rail networks are ready to respond to future increases in demand.
The government will fund and work with local authorities across the country to help make it easier for people to use bikes to get around – including Greater Manchester, which wants to create 150 miles of protected cycle track, and Transport for London, which plans a “bike Tube” network above Underground lines.
Fast-tracked statutory guidance, published today and effective immediately, will tell councils to reallocate roadspace for significantly-increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. In towns and cities, some streets could become bike and bus-only while others remain available for motorists. More side streets could be closed to through traffic, to create low-traffic neighbourhoods and reduce rat-running while maintaining access for vehicles.
Vouchers will be issued for cycle repairs, to encourage people to get their old bikes out of the shed, and plans are being developed for greater provision of bike fixing facilities. Many more will take up the Cycle to Work scheme, which gives employees a discount on a new bike.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “During this crisis, millions of people have discovered cycling – whether for exercise or as a means of safe, socially-distanced transport. While there is no change to the ‘stay at home’ message today, when the country does get back to work we need those people to stay on their bikes and be joined by many more.
“Otherwise, with public transport’s capacity severely restricted at this time, our trains and buses could become overcrowded and our roads gridlocked – holding up emergency services, critical workers and vital supplies.
“We know cars will continue to remain vital for many, but as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.”
CBI WELCOMES £2BN TRANSPORT PACKAGE
Commenting on the £2bn transport announcement by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, during the Downing Street press conference, CBI Chief UK Policy Director Matthew Fell said: “With connectivity such a pressing issue, business will welcome moves to better connect towns and cities across the length and breadth of the country. While this won’t provide a short-term fix to the many challenges facing businesses and individuals from the coronavirus crisis, it will help us to ‘build back better’ once it’s safe to restart the economy again.
“The ambition to expand ultra-rapid charging points across all motorway service stations will give people added confidence to make the switch to electric vehicles, locking-in the benefits of cleaner air and reduced carbon emissions that will contribute to a green recovery from the pandemic.
“In the longer term, levelling-up our regions will depend on improving journeys for workers, including cyclists, pedestrians and drivers across England. The commitment to make journeys greener, smoother and safer will benefit millions of commuters and thousands of businesses.”