UK to invest £2bn to boost walking and cycling

WCN Editorial Team 11 May 2020 EUROPE TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

The UK Government Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced a new £2bn package to build alternative ways of travel including walking and cycling to reduce pressure on public transport systems.

Across England, pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors are expected to be built within weeks, using £250m emergency active travel fund, the first stage of the £2bn funding.

The £2bn funding is in-turn part of a £5bn new funding announced for cycling and buses in February. As more and more people are taking up walking and cycling across the UK, to avoid public transport during the Covid-19 pandemic, the new plans will encourage more people to choose greener alternatives and take up healthier habits.

The move is also expected to relieve the future pressure on road, bus and rail networks, to ensure that the infrastructure can easily respond to an increase in the demand.

As part of the project, the government will not only fund but will also work with local authorities across the country, including Greater Manchester, where plans place to create more than 240km of the protected cycle track, along with Transport for London, which plans a ‘bike Tube’ network above underground lines.

The Fast-tracked statutory guidance, will inform councils, with immediate effect, to reallocate road space for significantly-increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians.

Across towns and cities, some streets are expected to become bike and bus-only while others will be available for motorists.

More side streets are expected to be closed to through the traffic, to create low-traffic neighbourhoods and reduce rat-running while maintaining access for vehicles.

The government also plans to bring forward e-scooter trials from next year to next month, to encourage more people to move away from public transport and onto greener alternatives.

Trials of rental e-scooters, which were originally planned to take place in four future transport zones, will now be offered in all local areas across the country.

This will allow the government to deeply assess the benefits of e-scooters along with their impact on public space, with a potential to see rental vehicles on UK roads as early as June.

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.”

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The UK Government to expand alternative ways of travel. (Credit: Pixabay/Linus Schütz.)

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