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New fund aims to encourage more people to choose active travel

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced £200 million of funding to support improvements that enable more people to choose active travel.

Active Travel England will invite local authorities to apply for the money, which will be used to develop walking, wheeling, and cycling routes. We are keen to hear from and support members who are already engaging with or would like to engage with active travel infrastructure development to create sustainable and healthy connections with the railway. Members should contact their usual support & development team contact to discuss ideas and plans.

Community engagement will be key to the process, with the DfT stating that projects will be ‘designed in consultation with residents and businesses to ensure schemes are safe and work for local communities.’

It is hoped that millions of people across England will benefit from schemes such as:

  • creating more paths in rural areas;
  • developing safer routes for children to walk to school;
  • improving safety at junctions for people walking and cycling;
  • supporting people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters by making street design more inclusive.

The government indicates that this new investment could generate up to 16 million additional walking and cycling trips a year. For example, currently less than half of children aged five to 16 walk or cycle to school, but the government’s objective is to enable 55% of all primary school children to walk to school by 2025.

The walking and cycling charity Sustrans estimate that active travel generated £36.5 billion for the economy in 2021 through increased spending on high streets, reduced pressure on the NHS and better access to jobs.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “This £200 million investment for hundreds of upgraded routes and paths across the country will help to reduce emissions, boost local economies, and create jobs.

“These new schemes will make it safer for children to walk to school and will better connect rural communities, helping more people choose active travel as an affordable and healthy way to get around.”

Guidance has been created to help local authorities develop active travel schemes that are well-designed and completed to a high standard. The successful projects are scheduled to be announced later this year.