The place of cycling in the UK Government Policy and Funding
During the Covid-19 pandemic the UK has seen an overall decrease in the number of people travelling but an increase in cycling of 100% during weekdays and 200% increase over the weekends.
Published in July 2020, the government document, ‘Gear Change: A bold vision for cycling and walking’, proposes radical changes to infrastructure and support for cycling across England’s towns and cities with new investment worth £2 billion over the next five years. This budget will be held and managed by a new commissioning body and inspectorate called Active Travel England.
‘Gear Change’ sets out the proposals under four themes:
Theme 1: Better streets for cycling and people
Theme 2: Cycling at the heart of decision making
Theme 3: Empowering and encouraging Local Authorities
Theme 4: Enabling people to cycle and protecting them when they do
To read the full document, please click here.
Within these proposals are plans to focus on local and strategic road schemes which comprising adequate and appropriate provision for cycling. Funding for development schemes will not be awarded unless bids include cycling strategy and interventions leading to meaningful change.
A national e-bike support programme is to be established, which could include loans, subsidies, or other financial incentives, using the lessons learned from other schemes in the UK and abroad with up to 30% of the cost of an e-bike being subsidized. Plans are in place to have the scheme up and running by March 2021.
More bikes could be fitted with GPS tracking linked to a central database to enable owners to track and recover their bicycles if stolen.
Plans are in place to increase the number of ‘School Streets’, a scheme that temporarily closes the roads outside of a school at the start and end of the school day, encouraging more parents and pupils to walk or cycle to school. These roads are often closed using retractable bollards set on timers.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council has already begun work on two School Streets pilots with support from the first tranche of Emergency Active Travel funding. Early indicators are showing a huge reduction in car usage and a positive move to more active forms of travel, including cycling, walking and scooting. Following the collection of data from these pilot schemes the council plans to roll out this initiative in more schools area across the local authority area (more details on the pilots can be found here).
The Council has also applied for £492,000 from tranche 2 of the Emergency Active Travel funding. This bid focuses on providing additional space for social distancing, encouraging walking and cycling for shorter journeys and where possible supporting local businesses. The bid includes schemes for a dedicated cycleway in our largest seaside town and partial pedestrianization of the market area in one of our busiest towns. A decision on whether this bid has been successful is expected imminently.