The Minister with responsibility for cycling, Chris Heaton-Harris, wrote to councils yesterday about active travel schemes supported by government funding.
He says school streets, pop-up cycle lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods implemented under the Emergency Active Travel Fund command public support, and must be given time.
I do know that a few councils have removed, or are proposing to remove, cycle schemes installed under the fund, or to water them down. Of course I understand that not every scheme is perfect and a minority will not stand the test of time, but if these schemes are not given that time to make a difference, then taxpayers’ monies have been wasted. Schemes need time to be allowed to bed in; must be tested against more normal traffic conditions, and must be in place long enough for their benefits and disbenefits to be properly evaluated and understood. We have no interest in requiring councils to keep schemes which are proven not to work, but that proof must be presented. Schemes must not be removed prematurely, or without proper evidence and too soon to collect proper evidence about their effects.Letter from chris heaton harris to councils, 30th july 2021
Councils should consult before implementing a scheme, but they should also consult before removing or modifying a scheme. Objective tests of public opinion should include professional polling. Councils that remove schemes prematurely should expect to receive reduced funding.
Updated Network Management Duty guidance will set out these principles in more detail.