National Highways working in tandem with Active Travel England

Olympic legend and Active Travel England ambassador Chris Boardman MBE and National Highways have pledged the two organisations will work more closely together to promote the benefits of active travel and a healthier future for all. 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between National Highways and Active Travel England was signed at a meeting between National Highways Chief Executive Nick Harris and Chris Boardman to formalise stronger collaborative working. 

Chris Boardman was appointed the National Active Travel Commissioner for Active Travel England in 2022, and is a former professional cyclist, participating in the Tour de France and winning a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in 1992. Active travel simply means making journeys in physically active ways - like walking and cycling. 

Through its Designated Funds programme in the second roads investment period (2020 – 2025), National Highways has already invested £70m in active travel schemes and is set to deliver an additional £22m before the end of the roads investment period. These schemes will improve safety, enable more active journeys and improve walkers, cyclists and horse-riders experience. 



Nick Harris, left, and Chris Boardman

 It will work with Active Travel England to improve both organisations’ alignment. As part of the closer working relationship, we will collaborate to share data and guidance, consider opportunities for joint working and ensure maximum value from active travel investment.  

 National Highways Chief Executive Nick Harris said:  

 ”We are very pleased to be working more closely with Active Travel England. We have a track record of investing in active travel provision, but we want to encourage earlier consideration when developing road schemes.  

 ”National Highways is developing ‘an approach to active travel’ which will set our role, vision and priorities for active travel during the next roads period. This MOU signing is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate our commitment to active travel.”   

Chris Boardman has worked in a variety of safer walking and cycling advocacy roles including being appointed in 2017 as Transport for Greater Manchester’s Transport Commissioner. He works as a pundit and commentator on BBC and ITV and has a large social media presence with 195k followers on Twitter, 17k followers on Linked In, and 12.7k on Instagram. 

 He said: “It’s so important that our roads are safe and accessible to everyone, which means making sure schemes consider every journey, including for everyone walking, wheeling and cycling.

“ATE is teaming up with National Highways to make sure people can enjoy safe and pleasant journeys to work, school or the shops under their own steam. In turn they will reap the health benefits, save money and make more sustainable travel choices – it’s win-win for everyone.”

Active Travel England became the Government’s executive agency to oversee local active travel delivery in 2022.  

 In May, National Highways and Active Travel England will host its first director-level meeting to steer and oversee areas of active travel collaboration via an agreed programme. Among a number of themes set to be discussed are strategic direction and priorities as well as scheme development and engagement.  

 Under the new MOU, both organisations will work to understand how active travel investment across National Highways’ roads network in the pilot area of the Tyne (A1, A19 and A194 (M)) could enable more walking and cycling for local trips to access education, employment and services. This will build on findings of the Study of the Urban SRN, which was undertaken in 2022 in collaboration with Transport North East and Transport for the North. 

 National Highways is also planning to include an active travel section on its website to showcase active travel scheme delivery and increase customer information about how to access active travel facilities. This page will include a link to Active Travel England’s website.  

National Highways supports the Government’s ambition that 50% of all trips in towns and cities will be on foot or by bike by 2030 (from the Government’s Second Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy) and is committed to reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads. 

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