UK to fund ‘golden age’ for bikes

More than $355 million has been allocated to bikes and pedestrian improvements across England in the latest budget.

The splurge is part of a five-year $3.5B active travel commitment that began in 2020 and is now transforming the country.

Active Travel England, the recently created agency charged with the role in boosting bike riding and walking in cities has received $286 million to fund 134 different projects to upgrade infrastructure.

Another $2.7 million will go to feasibility studies for another 19 local neighbourhood projects.

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said: "Active Travel England will be working hard to create a new golden age of walking and cycling, enabling everyone to reap the benefits of a more active lifestyle, creating streets where children can play and making nicer places to live.

"This multimillion-pound investment will ensure people right across the country can access cheap, healthy and zero-emission travel.”

And the recently appointed interim Active Travel Commissioner, Chris Boardman said: "This is all about enabling people to leave their cars at home and enjoy local journeys on foot or by bike.

"Active Travel England is going to make sure high-quality spaces for cycling, wheeling and walking are delivered across all parts of England, creating better streets, a happier school run and healthier, more pleasant journeys to work and the shops.”

The government has also committed another $62 million to improve the quality, safety and accessibility of the National Cycle Network, a UK-wide network of paths and routes for walking, cycling or wheeling managed by the independent charity Sustrans.

The new funding will see 44 off-road sections of the network upgraded to ensure they endure for years to come.

Xavier Brice, Chief Executive Officer of Sustrans, said the funding will see improvements made to the network in England, connecting cities, towns and the countryside, making walking, wheeling and cycling a safer, more convenient and more accessible travel option for everyone.

"The network is a national asset that is loved locally and continued investment will advance our work with partners and stakeholders across the UK. Together, we’re reimagining the ways in which we move around, empowering people to connect with others and helping everyone explore our shared environments.”

Another Up to $14.1 million is going towards a new programme to accelerate the uptake of e-bikes by offering short and long-term loans of e-cycles.

The Welsh Government has also announced $89 million in active transport funding in a bid to meet its net zero emissions policies.

All local authorities will receive a minimum of $890,000, with additional allocations having been awarded based on the outcome of a competitive application process.

Lee Waters, deputy minister for climate change, with a responsibility for transport, said: ‘This is a substantial investment and part of our commitment to making cycling easier so people cut the amount of journeys they take by car and travel in a way that is better for our planet.

“Getting people out of cars for short journeys and encouraging them to walk or cycle instead is a huge challenge for us, but one that has to be met if we are to reach our net zero carbon emission target by 2050.

“We need to make sure that we have the right infrastructure and routes in place so that people have the choice of cycling for their everyday journeys – we need to make the right thing to do, the easy thing to do".

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