£2 billion funding reaction: “We hope that Local Authorities around England are bold”

While we wait for the detail of the big funding announcement for cycling and walking made at the weekend, we’ve pulled together some of the initial reaction to the investment news:

Ruth Cadbury MP (Brentford & Isleworth) Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling & Walking said: “I warmly welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State to take action to boost levels of cycling and walking particularly for everyday journeys. It is good to see that several of the recommendations from our ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report will now become Government policy.

“What we heard [today] is a commitment to see active travel modes as a significant solution to reduce pollution and congestion and create a healthier and fitter society. The message from Government was very clear and I hope that Local Authorities around England are bold in following this advice and taking up the support offered.

“The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling & Walking group look forward to working with the Government on the roll-out of these measures.”

Chris Boardman, Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester: “This announcement is official recognition of the major role cycling and walking will play as we emerge from this crisis.

“By creating safe streets we give people the choice to make active journeys, taking the pressure off our public transport system and protecting our NHS – both now and in the future. When a third of all journeys under 1km in Greater Manchester are made by car, the lifesaving impact of this, through improved health and cleaner air, cannot be underestimated.

“Our Local Authorities are already mobilising their plans to create more space for those on foot or on bikes; a potential lifeline for the third of households across the city region who don’t have access to a car and usually rely on public transport. And whilst this funding will be a vital enabler, fast tracking the approval of side roads zebra crossings – that are currently used across the world- will help protect people who are choosing to do their bit to help us all.”

The Bikeability Trust warmly welcomed the announcement and stressed the importance of cycle training, for all ages, as a key tool to encourage people to take up cycling. It also noted that the closure of schools under the Covid-19 lockdown has, unfortunately, put a temporary halt to the delivery of Bikeability training by the network of  326 registered Bikeability providers and 2,750 professional Bikeability instructors who are trained, registered and paid to deliver Bikeability.

However, the Bikeability Trust is currently working to develop clear guidance for the delivery of cycle training that will meet the anticipated new health and safety standards required for teaching, in preparation for when schools reopen.

Paul Robison, CEO of the Bikeability Trust, said: “We are in consultation with Bikeability delivery partners to ensure that the safety of our instructors as well as teachers, trainees and their families is a key priority within any new Bikeability training guidance.  We hope that the new guidance will enable Bikeability training to be delivered safely and effectively in this era of physical distancing under Covid-19.”

Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans on behalf of the Walking and Cycling Alliance said: “We welcome the UK Government’s immediate commitment of £250 million for new pop-up protected cycle lanes, the widening of footways and to support car free, cycling, bus and walking streets to allow for social distancing as we begin to move out of lockdown.

“Public transport systems are vital but will not be able to operate at full capacity for some time due to social distancing. Our towns and cities can’t cope with the increased private car journeys this could cause. Instead we must increase walking and cycling. This won’t just help with social distancing. This will help with tackling the climate crisis, air pollution and public health, decreasing the burden on our NHS.

“This funding is a first step that allows more local authorities to put temporary measures in place so more people can move around safely and actively as we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. The full £2 billion announced to increase walking and cycling in the longer-term, with a plan to support this funding expected in June, is the next step in helping to create real long-term change in the way we move around our towns and cities and should also be used to help support new and returning cyclists get used to riding again.

“As we begin to rebuild after this devastating Covid-19 pandemic, we encourage all Local Authorities to use this funding as soon as possible to make the changes needed. The Walking and Cycling Alliance is here to help and share our expertise with the public and local authorities as we adapt to and create changing environments, whether its tips for cycling and walking or helping to put new infrastructure in place.

“It is imperative going forward that we don’t solve one crisis by perpetuating others and instead create healthier, happier and greener places that we all want to live in.”