Active Travel Fund
Changes to road layouts and new infrastructure to encourage active travel
The coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis has had a terrible impact on the lives and health of many UK citizens, and has had severe economic consequences. One of the few positive aspects to come out of the crisis appears to be that people are exercising more often and there has been a higher uptake of active travel as people have discovered, or rediscovered, cycling and walking.
In some places, there has been a reported 70 per cent rise in the number of people on bikes - for exercise, or for safe, socially-distanced travel. According to the West Berkshire COVID-19 Resident's Survey, when asked which travel modes they would use in the next 6 months compared to the previous year, 46.9 per cent of respondents said they would travel on foot more or much more, and 23 per cent said they would travel by bike more or much more.
According to the National Travel Survey, in 2017-18 over 40 per cent of urban journeys were under two miles - perfectly suited to walking and cycling. Our road network may struggle to cope if all of our residents choose to drive instead.
Encouraging Active Travel
Active travel is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use. Towns and cities based around active travel will have happier and healthier citizens as well as lasting local economic benefits. Indications are that there is a significant link between COVID-19 recovery and fitness and therefore active travel can help us become more resilient.
The government therefore expects local authorities to make changes to their road layouts and provide new infrastructure to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians in a "green restart".
In the short term this will help provide more space for cyclists and pedestrians to stay safe and maintain social distance as shops and businesses reopen and people return to work. Longer term, we are hoping such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel. We hope that the changes will make sure that transport networks support recovery from the Covid-19 emergency to provide a lasting legacy of greener, safer transport.
West Berkshire Council was awarded £619,000 from the Department for Transport as part of the Emergency Active Travel Fund to improve cycling and walking in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The allocation is part of the government's Emergency Active Travel Fund and is broken down into two phases:
Under phase one, we focused our efforts on measures that were able to be implemented quickly to provide additional road space for walking and cycling in the short term. We were awarded £124,000 to introduce pop-up and temporary interventions.
You can see the list of locations for the first phase measures in our
Some of the improvements that we introduced in the first phase included:
- additional cycle parking in a number of our towns and villages
- temporary road closures and parking suspensions to enable social distancing and active travel
- temporary exemption for cyclists in one-way streets
- permanent conversions of temporary cycle ways
- pop-up cycling facilities
- converting advisory cycle lanes (broken white line) to mandatory cycle lanes (marked by a solid white line which vehicles are not allowed to enter except in an emergency) using light segregation
The phase two funding was announced mid-November and we were able to secure our full allocation of £495,000 to build on the work carried out in phase one.
Proposals for the next phase primarily consist of permanent measures to create and improve travel routes for cyclists and pedestrians on the A4 corridor within Newbury and Thatcham.
In addition to this, we are consulting on introducing new parking restrictions to protect existing cycle routes in various locations. The plans also include a pilot School Zone/School Street Scheme in Calcot and restricted access on Lawrence's Lane and Deadman's Lane in Thatcham and Theale respectively. The proposals have been designed to comply with the new LTN1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance issued by the Department for Transport in the summer.
These activities are designed to:
- enhance the safety of pedestrians and cyclists
- promote health and wellbeing
- improve the environment, air quality and sustainability
- play a key role in COVID-19 economic recovery plans.
We received lots of suggestions for proposed schemes, so in order to assess their suitability we used a multi-criteria assessment tool to score and prioritise according to categories. These categories included deliverability (with construction scheduled for this financial year), strategic fit (part of our coherent network plan as identified in the adopted Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan) and propensity to increase active travel (either journeys to school or commuting), amongst others.
In the consultation phase, from February to April 2021, we asked for feedback on the proposed schemes and also gave you a chance to identify locations in your neighbourhood where improvements could be made. Please visit our Active Travel Consultation page for contact details.
Consultation material is also being circulated to affected residents, businesses and key stakeholders.
Please remember that cycling on footways, including across bridges, is not allowed unless the footway is designated as a shared facility for both cyclists and pedestrians to use.
Our Council Strategy gives more details on our priorities to make West Berkshire a great place to live, work and visit.