The Prime Minister’s announcement last week that England will be a “great walking and cycling nation” won’t change much in London. Johnson already shifted the city up several gears in the walking and cycling stakes when he was Mayor. But the fact that Government is saying this marks a significant change from previous administrations.
The Government’s vision includes plans to create a long-term cycling and walking investment programme “like the roads programme” - although the £2bn budget figure is dwarfed by the £27.4 billion allocation to the Road Investment Strategy. Road schemes will be expected to include appropriate provision for cycling unless it can be shown that there is little or no need for cycling in the particular scheme.
The paper recognises that cost-benefit analyses still undervalue cycle schemes’ longer-term benefits, and guidance will be reviewed to ensure that it doesn’t disadvantage them. It addresses the scandalous lack of integration between trains and cycling. “Cycles and trains should be ideal partners, complementing each other and extending the range of both” says the report. “Cycling can make public transport journeys door-to-door, matching the convenience of the car.” There will be investment in safe routes to stations and train companies will be leant on to provide a better service for cyclists making it easier to reserve bike spaces online. All future rolling stock will be required to include more bike spaces.
New housing and business developments should be planned around sustainable travel and the emerging National Model Design Code and revisions to the Manual for Streets will take this into account. Freight consolidation is a key part of the Government’s strategy which will promote the use of cargo bikes to reduce unnecessary motorised freight and servicing traffic. Pilot consolidation projects in Mayfair have significantly reduced levels of commercial traffic. More low-traffic neighbourhoods, school streets and “Mini-Hollands” are proposed.
These are truly radical proposals which will transform local areas. Chris Boardman tweeted: “Been at this for 20yrs, never thought I’d see the day.”
At the same time, the government has published a consultation document on changes to the highway code that support its active travel policies. Most importantly it proposes a hierarchy of road users which suggests that those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others. This is something that has been discussed many times at NLA seminars on active travel and has the potential to transform the fractious relationship between different road users. The report also proposes new guidance on pedestrian and cyclist priority at junctions. This video
succinctly explains the proposals.
“I want bicycles to be part of an effusion of green transport, of electric cars, buses and trains,” says Johnson “because clean air will be to the 21st century what clean water was to the 19th.” Amen to that.