Traffic is not just a bit of bother. If left unchecked, congestion can pose a real threat to economic development and quality of life. Even the newest diesel engines are more polluting than previously thought, so being stuck in a jam is also very unhealthy. 1 Local authorities throughout the UK have been grappling with the question of road space for quite some time now.
After years of pressure from groups of cyclists and civil servants, the government has committed itself to making “walking and cycling the natural choices for shorter journeys”. The new cycling and walking strategy (CWIS), announced in 2017, was created in an effort to address these concerns. In a report to parliament on the progress of the strategy in February 2020, the government noted that £1.2bn has been invested so far, with the same amount again expect by 2022. These figures are double what was expected in 2017.2
The funds have been spread over four main areas: financial investment, behavioural change, safety and partnership. The results from the investments so far have been very promising.
Success has been found in a number of areas which schemes such as the Cycle Ambition Cities Programme have seen an increase of up to 69% in cycling volumes on key routes.
Modeshift STARS is a national awards scheme which recognises schools, businesses and other organisations that have shown excellence in supporting cycling, walking and other sustainable travel. Four thousand individual schools have registered with the scheme, and 1,200 schools nationally have achieved accreditation.2
CWIS hopes it will double cycling activity by 2025, so how do local authorities plan for more change? As any cyclist will know, road space is a contentious issue. Local authorities will have to look both ways at the junction in order to weigh up the demands of different road users. As things vary so much depending on local circumstances, there will be many possible solutions. The key will be rigorous consulting and planning.
The government has said it can achieve its goal of doubling cycling. Still, for CWIS to succeed, local authorities will need to partner up with businesses, public sector groups and the wider community. If they can do this successfully, they may be able to turn a corner.
Published date: 26th March 2020
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