Thank you for contacting me about cycling and walking.
Cycling and walking have a significant role to play in tackling some of the biggest health and environmental challenges that we face. Indeed, an uptake of these greener modes of transport throughout the pandemic has played a great role in the national coronavirus effort, helping to reduce the pressure on public transport, and, in facilitating social distancing, lowering infection rates. I therefore welcome increased interest in cycling and walking and hope to see these behavioural changes last.
I am very pleased that the Government has committed to the largest ever financial boost for active travel of an additional £2 billion in cycling and walking over the next five years. This will deliver transformational change, hopefully encouraging people to maintain their transition to greener, more sustainable modes of transport such as cycling. In the summer, the Department for Transport also published the 'Gear Change' policy paper, detailing a bold new action plan to boost active travel.
The first stage of this £2 billion investment was a £250 million Emergency Active Travel Fund. Through this, the Government supported local authorities to increase the amount of road space provided for cycling, and enabled local authorities to re-allocate road space and make changes to road layouts in response to the coronavirus. The Fund delivered new pop-up cycle lanes with protected space for cycling, cycle and bus-only corridors, safer junctions and wider pavements. Furthermore, a £50 Fix Your Bike Voucher scheme was launched to help people to bring their bikes out of retirement. It was hugely popular and there will be more opportunities to secure vouchers in the coming months.
Beyond these measures, there will be a long-term cycling programme and budget, which will ensure a guaranteed funding pipeline. This will usher in thousands of miles of protected cycle routes in our towns and cities and improve the National Cycle Network.
Furthermore, over 1,000 miles of safe and direct cycling and walking networks are due to be delivered by 2025 with network plans developed and being built in every town and city in England. Cycle training will be made available for any child or adult who wants it and a new national e-bike programme will be introduced to increase access to e-bikes. I welcome that Cycling UK have already provided information on how cycling can be enjoyed safely.
Higher standards for cycling infrastructure have also been introduced and a new inspectorate, Active Travel England, will ensure these new standards are upheld. The new standards will ensure schemes are better designed around the needs of cyclists and will make sure that schemes support the growing numbers of cyclists. I understand that the Department of Transport is already developing a framework to help local authorities monitor and evaluate the schemes that they will be delivering through phase two of the Active Travel Fund.
A consultation was also held on strengthening the Highway Code to enhance protections for cyclists and pedestrians. Among other things, Ministers want to improve the legal protections afforded to vulnerable road users and introduce tougher lorry safety standards.
I trust that the Government and Department of Transport will continue to work closely with transport providers and local authorities to deliver on the vision of making the country a great walking and cycling nation.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP