Councils across England are to share £200 million central government investment into schemes aimed at encouraging cycling and walking, with 134 projects set to benefit funding under the initiative which is being overseen by Active Travel England.
The Department for Transport says that £161 million will be spent on new footways, cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings in 46 local authority areas outside England.
In addition to that funding, 19 authorities – including in Nottinghamshire, Hull and Manchester – will also receive a share of £1.5 million for “mini-Holland” feasibility studies, to assess how the areas could be as pedestrian and cycle-friendly as their Dutch city equivalents.
Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said: “This multimillion-pound investment will ensure people right across the country can access cheap, healthy and zero-emission travel.”
Chris Boardman, who earlier this year was appointed Active Travel Commissioner for England, commented: “This is all about enabling people to leave their cars at home and enjoy local journeys on foot or by bike.
“Active Travel England is going to make sure high-quality spaces for cycling, wheeling and walking are delivered across all parts of England, creating better streets, a happier school run and healthier, more pleasant journeys to work and the shops.”
A further £35 million will be spent improving the National Cycle Network, which is managed by the charity Sustrans, including upgrades to 44 off-road-sections of its routes, and £8 million will go on an initiative to encourage more people to ride e-bikes through short and long-term loans, with a pilot scheme operated by Cycling UK launching last week in Greater Manchester.
The national cycling charity also gets £2 million for its Big Bike Revival scheme which enables people to get bicycles that have been left unused in gardens and sheds back in a roadworthy condition.
Xavier Brice, chief executive officer of Sustrans, said: “As custodians of the National Cycle Network, we’re delighted that the government is continuing to invest in these vital and much-loved walking, wheeling and cycling routes.
“This funding will see improvements made to the network in England, connecting cities, towns and the countryside, making walking, wheeling and cycling a safer, more convenient and more accessible travel option for everyone.
“The network is a national asset that is loved locally and continued investment will advance our work with partners and stakeholders across the UK. Together, we’re reimagining the ways in which we move around, empowering people to connect with others and helping everyone explore our shared environments,” he added.
One of the schemes that will be funded as part of the announcement is the 1930s cycle track in Leicester.
The journalist and author Carlton Reid, who has researched 101 such schemes across the UK that date back to the 1930s and 1940s and has published his findings on his Bikeboom website (link is external), where people can back the project, said he hoped more councils would seek government cash to enable them to restore such infrastructure.
Reid told road.cc that the scheme in Leicester, worth £2.2 million and relating to the 1930s cycle track on Melton Road, from Lanesborough Road to the city boundary near the outer ring road, “is one of 10 that were cherry picked for extra design work by John Dales and his team at Urban Movement.”
Deputy city mayor for transport and environment at Leicester City Council, Councillor Adam Clarke, said: “Around 18,000 people make daily journeys by bike in Leicester, but one of the biggest barriers to regular walking and cycling is the need for safe and easy to follow direct routes.
“Creating off-road routes - and more space for pedestrians - means everyone can travel safely by bike or on foot. It’s interesting to note that this is exactly the same issue that led to the creation of segregated cycle lanes in the 1930s.
“As heritage champion for Leicester, I love the fact that we’ll be reviving the city’s past while making travel around the city more sustainable for the future. Sustainable travel means less congestion, less air pollution, better health and a better environment for us all,” he added.