Local authorities including North Yorkshire have an opportunity to bid for money from the Active Travel Fund this year (2021/22). Bids must be submitted by 9th August 2021.
A letter from Rupert Furness of the DfT’s Active and Accessible Travel Unit sets out five key principles that councils must commit to respect:
- Schemes must comply with LTN1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance. This means segregation or point closures to motor vehicles. Mr Furness also states that local authorities and developers are expected to build to LTN1/20 standards regardless of whether they are seeking government funding.
- All authorities must undertake network planning in the form of a Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). LCWIPs must be supported by the council at the highest levels of leadership, developed in consultation with local communities, and integrated with local transport plans.
- Plans should be developed in consultation with local communities, but that does not mean giving anyone a veto, requiring consensus on schemes, or prioritising the loudest voices.
- Local authority leaders must provide written confirmation of their long-term commitment to the schemes they put forward, and the schemes must be given time to bed in.
- If asked, councils must agree to put larger schemes through a Design Review by the DfT (or by Active Travel England, once it has been set up).
Bid Criteria and Contents
Bids will be assessed in line with these criteria:
- propensity to convert short vehicle journeys to cycling and walking
- tackling areas with high levels of deprivation and poor health outcomes
- number of people who will benefit
- compliance with the 5 Key Principles
The bids should include:
- an updated LCWIP with the latest network plan
- cycling and walking investment priorities over the next 1 year, 4 years, and 10 years
- schemes for 2021/22 in priority order
Also in the letter, Mr Furness invites non-London areas to express interest in intensive, transformational spending on local roads to make them as cycle- and pedestrian-friendly as their Dutch equivalents.
This is known as the Mini-Holland scheme, and it is open to local authorities that show they have serious political commitment to dramatic change.
GP Prescribing Pilot
Authorities can also express interest in being chosen for pilot schemes where GPs will prescribe cycling and walking as health interventions. The places chosen will have to invest in infrastructure improvements.
Authorities are being offered training for their officers in active travel provision to LTN1/20 standards.
There are multiple dates between July 2021 and January 2022. Each day will be for one local authority, with 8-12 participants.
The government promised £2 billion for cycling and walking over 5 years, or £400 million a year. The first two years have seen sums of £250 million and £239 million actually allocated.
In order to catch up, funding for active travel in the final 3 years of the period needs to be £504 million per year – see the table below.
The government clearly wished to reap the PR benefits of announcing a large investment in cycling and walking – but can it be trusted to stick to its commitment?