The Welsh Government has released a £55 million funding package for councils to encourage people to take up healthier travel for short local journeys.
The 2021 to 2022 budget has allocated more than £55 million to be spent on active travel, an increase of £20 million from last year – up from £5 million in 2016 at the start of this Welsh Government term.
The record funding boost represents an eleven-fold increase in the dedicated budget for investment in Active Travel in the last five years.
The big rise in investment is part of a major push to support sustainable transport as part of Welsh Government’s action on climate change. The new investment comes alongside the publication of new guidance to improve the design of new infrastructure.
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “Changing travel habits is not easy to achieve but we have to make a big effort if we are to tackle our health crisis and our climate crisis. We want local authorities to be ambitious in their plans, and to reach out to people who currently would not consider swapping a local car journey for a bike ride or a journey on foot and design safe routes that would encourage them to give it a try.”
The new funding is part of a reform package which includes a major local consultation exercise in every local authority area to create a pipeline of schemes to make it more attractive to walk and cycle.
Councils have been invited to apply for schemes that can make a real difference to the numbers walking and cycling in their areas. They can use the money for small-scale schemes like upgrading narrow routes that have become overcrowded, or removing barriers that block wheelchairs or cycle trailers, as well as for the planning of bigger and more complex schemes.
Councils will be encouraged to work together to better connect places that may happen to lie in different council areas, but where many people travel between.
Welsh Government has also published two sets of guidance designed to further improve conditions for active travel. The first set of guidance aims to ensure that when streetworks are put in place that the safety of walkers and cyclists are planned for. It has been drafted in collaboration with Sustrans and the Welsh Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee.
The second guidance focuses on active travel improvements on trunk roads, which Welsh Government are responsible for managing. The guidance is aimed at ensuring that whenever improvements are made to trunk roads in Wales, full consideration is given to how conditions for walking and cycling can be improved as part of the project, both within and beyond the trunk road boundary.