Welsh cross party group proposes bold active travel manifesto ahead of May elections

A cross party group of politicians in Wales have constructed a framework active travel manifesto that it has urged political parties to consider adopting ahead of this May’s local elections.

The Senedd Cross Party Group on the Active Travel Act has published the 11 point proposal document, which is guided by the latest evidence to support a wide range of issues. With the Senedd elections due on May 6th the parties have little time to integrate the policy ideas into their bid to win votes from the public.

The segments detailed include:

  • Cycle to school programmes and broader cycle training as part of community health and well-being
  • A 20mph default urban speed limit for Wales
  • Community design that will stimulate active travel means by reducing road dangers. It is flagged that there are economic benefits in progressing active travel infrastructure.
  • A proposal to bring forward a Clean Air Act, with acknowledgement that current levels exceeded legal limits in five towns and cities in 2015. 2,000 lives are said to be cut short in Wales each year as a result.
  • A proposal to decarbonise all future transport infrastructure and to introduce a “climate emergency appraisal method” which factors in cost-effectiveness at reducing emissions.
  • To encourage electric bike uptake with a policy of “affordable e-bikes for everyone”. Purchase incentives, as seen in Scotland may be mirrored. Job-seekers, it is suggested, should gain priority access to schemes.
  • Set challenging targets on active travel and hold political parties accountable for their delivery. Meaningful targets added to the pioneering Active Travel Act are sought.
  • Enhanced funding pots specifically for active travel. The next Welsh Government must commit to allocating a substantial portion of the transport budget, at least 10%, to active travel, writes the manifesto proposal.
  • To establish mechanisms to deliver active travel effectively and efficiently. Legislation to create an Active Travel Commissioner, akin to Chris Boardman’s Manchester role, is proposed.
  • To create an information campaign to assist the public in understanding the environmental, economic and health benefits of walking and cycling and properly inform people of the sustainable travel options available to them.
  • Re-focus road safety policy to give greater priority to the most vulnerable road users, including issuing greater driver education on how to behave around walkers and cyclists.

Transport currently accounts for 15% of Wales’ emissions, while the private car has over half the country’s modal share.

Add to that the fact that the Health Service is consuming more than half of the Welsh Government’s budget, even prior to the pandemic, and it is becoming clear that public health is an issue in focus ahead of the elections. Prioritising active transport is now seen as a key pillar of getting people moving on their own steam.

The electorate at large are supportive of renewed focus on active travel measures. The proposals flag recent YouGov findings that 56% of people in the UK support schemes such as the introduction of cycle lanes. Just 10% strongly oppose such ideas. A further Kantar Media study found that that 65% of people support reallocating road space to active travel in their local area. 78% support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood.