LGIU Briefing | Draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy

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28 April 2016

Draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy

 

Ruth Bradshaw LGiU ssociate

Summary

  • The Government has recently published a consultation on its draft cycling and walking investment strategy. The deadline for comments is 23 May 2016.
  • The strategy sets out the Government’s ambition and objectives for cycling and walking, the financial resources available to meet those objectives, how the objectives will be delivered and the governance arrangements.
  • The Government will be issuing guidance this summer on the preparation of Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) and, among other things, the consultation seeks views on the assistance that local authorities will need to deliver these plans.
  • This briefing provides an overview of the draft strategy. It will be of interest to elected members and officers with transport, planning and public health responsibilities.

Briefing in full

Introduction

Under the Infrastructure Act 2015, the Government is required to set a cycling and walking investment strategy (CWIS) for England. The Government provided initial details of how it proposed to do this in Setting the First Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (PDF document)published in December 2015.

A draft of the first CWIS was published for consultation on 27 March 2016. The deadline for comments is 23 May 2016. The Government is seeking views on the approach and actions set out in the strategy including the potential roles of government and non-government bodies in delivering the strategy; the assistance local authorities and LEPs would find beneficial to support development of infrastructure plans; and the proposed activities for meeting the objectives of better safety, mobility and streets.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is running a series of consultation workshops around the country to collect views on the draft strategy. There are details of these including how to book here (PDF document).

Throughout the document, the Government highlights the importance of working in partnership with local bodies, business and commerce, the third sector, individuals and the wider public and private sector. They also emphasise the changing institutional landscape and the opportunities arising from increased devolution of powers to local areas and the retention of business rates by local government.

The Government’s ambition for cycling and walking in England

The Government’s goal is that by 2040, walking and cycling should be a normal part of everyday life. ‘We want to make cycling and walking the natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey.’

They acknowledge that realising this ambition will take sustained investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, long-term transport planning and a change in attitudes – amongst Central Government, local bodies, businesses, communities and individuals. ‘We must build a local commitment together to support this national Strategy.’

Objectives and target for walking and cycling

By 2020, the Government will:

  • Increase cycling activity, where cycling activity is measured as the estimated total number of cycle stages made each year;
  • Reverse the decline in walking activity, measured as the total number of walking stages per person per year;
  • Reduce the rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured on England’s roads, measured as the number of fatalities and serious injuries per billion miles cycled, each year;
  • Increase the percentage of children aged 5 to 10 that usually walk to school.

In addition, there is also a target for 2025 to:

  • Double cycling, where cycling activity is measured as the estimated total number of cycle stages made each year, from 0.8 billion stages in 2013 to 1.6 billion stages in 2025.

Counting stages rather than trips allows cycling and walking as part of a longer journey to be included e.g. cycling to a railway station to catch a train.

During the development of the next strategy they will review whether quantified targets for walking for 2025 are appropriate.

Financial resources

Section 5 of the strategy sets out the financial resources for cycling and walking up to 2020-21 in line with the Spending Review 2015 (SR2015) settlement period. The Government say the aim of this is to assist forward planning and reduce the potentially negative impact of the stop-start funding previously seen in the sector.

Five main sources of funding for cycling and walking are included as set out below. Much of this funding is already committed. The main sources of unallocated funding currently available are the Access revenue fund and the Local Growth Fund, on which announcements will be made during 2016.

DfT cycling and walking specific programmes

The DfT programmes dedicated to cycling and walking are:

  • Cycle Ambition Cities: £191 million from 2013-14 to 2017-18 – Eight cities were awarded funding in 2013 to build cycle networks by delivering quiet routes, including Dutch-style segregated cycleways and improved cycle links to key services, such as employment and education.
  • Bikeabiltiy: £50 million from 2016-17 to 2019-20 – This is the Government’s long-standing programme of cycle-training for school-children which is available to every local body in England (there are separate funding arrangements for Bikeability in London).
  • Highways England designated fund for cycling, safety and integration: £100 million from 2015-16 to 2020-21 for cycling – This funding is intended to support the cycle-proofing of the existing strategic road network with improved facilities for cycling and reduced severance.
  • Access fund: £80 million revenue from 2016-17 to 2020-21 – This new fund is intended to build on the legacy of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF). It will be allocated by competition, with a transitional year in 2016-17. Further information on the funding for 2017-18 and beyond will be available by summer 2016.

The Government is also funding a Sustainable Transport Delivery Excellence programme to provide capacity support to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and delivery partners. In 2016-17 support is being widened to include advice on making the case for health, planning for housing development, and helping to develop plans to deliver against this Investment Strategy.

DfT local transport programmes

There are also a number of DfT funding streams which are devolved to local bodies.

  • Local Growth Fund: £12 billion from 2016-17 to 2020-21 – This brings together funding from a number of different Government departments to enable LEPs to realise their strategic economic growth plans. Around £7.7 billion has already been allocated, with £4 billion supporting transport projects, including around £600 million for cycling and walking.
  • DfT highways maintenance block: £3.8 billion from 2016-17 to 2020-21 – This funding is distributed between local highway authorities in England (outside London) using a formula that takes account of factors such as the length of different types of road. From 2018-19, the formula will take into account the length of footways and cycleways, and 9% of the funding will be dependent on this. This funding is not ring-fenced.
  • Integrated Transport Block: £1.3 billion from 2016-17 to 2020-21 – This funding is distributed to local bodies outside London by formula for small-scale capital works focused on road safety, tackling congestion, reducing harm to the environment and improving accessibility. Around 11% is typically allocated to cycling, and around 4% to walking.

Other central Government programmes supporting cycling and walking

  • NHS Healthy New Towns – This is covered in this recent LGIU briefing.
  • Department of Health: Walking Cities – In 2013, the Department of Health provided £1.2 million over two years, between five cities to encourage more people to walk. An evaluationof this initiative by the University of East Anglia has recently been published.
  • Public health – There are a number of different public health-related initiatives which provide support for increased physical activity, including the Childhood Obesity Strategy, to be published this summer; Everybody Active, Every Day, an evidence based report published by Public Health England to support the development of ‘active environments’; and the planning healthy-weights environment project.
  • Government’s new sports strategy – This was published in December 2015 and outlines a broadening of Sport England’s role to include measuring and supporting both sport and certain types of physical activity, including cycling, dancing and walking. It also highlights the importance of the wider built and natural environment being designed to make taking part in physical activity safer and easier.
  • National Planning Policy Framework – one of the core land-use planning principles in the Framework is that planning should actively manage patterns of growth to make the fullest use of public transport, walking and cycling. There are also opportunities to use theCommunity Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 planning obligations to fund walking and cycling improvements.

Local and city programmes

Details of the funding available for walking and cycling in London and Manchester are provided as examples of cities that are demonstrating how to make effective use of the new powers available following increased devolution.

Initiatives led by business and the third sector

This section refers to some of the non-Government sources of funding to promote cycling and walking. Business investment is often secured as a result of the requirement for match funding for some of DfT’s programmes. Many local bodies are exploring funding opportunities through innovative mechanisms such as Social Impact Bonds.

Governance arrangements

The Government will be creating a DfT sponsored independent Expert Committee to review the Strategy and its implementation. This Committee will be supported by a Delivery Team hosted within the DfT and made up of representatives from a range of relevant government departments, local bodies as well as other external organisations. Membership will be partly drawn from organisations and individuals in the cycling, walking and related fields but will also include relevant business and commercial experts, in order to provide a broader perspective and ensure that the strategy targets non-cyclists and groups that are currently under-represented in cycling and walking, such as people with disabilities.

The Committee’s main tasks will be to review implementation of the first strategy, create partnerships with local bodies and national businesses and contribute to the development of the second CWIS by auditing and quality assuring local strategies. It will also monitor other relevant Government ambitions and programmes, including ones delivered by other Government departments. DfT is due to launch an open competition recruitment exercise to appoint Committee members shortly, with a view to having the Committee in place by October 2016.

Actions proposed as part of the strategy

The Government proposes to focus on four key areas in the next year:

  • The establishment of the Expert Committee;
  • Issuing guidelines on the preparation of Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) and supporting the production of LCWIPs in areas with significant potential for high levels of cycling and walking;
  • Engaging with LEPs, building on the Sustainable Transport Delivery Excellence programme in order to build capability and understanding;
  • Developing a mechanism for effectively sharing knowledge and lessons learned by the eight Cycling Ambition Cities, five Walking Cities and others so that all authorities can benefit from their experience and learning.

The Government will build on the progress it has made since the draft Cycling Delivery Plan (PDF document)  was published in October 2014 and has identified a range of activities that will contribute towards achieving its objectives for 2020 which are divided into three themes.

Better safety

DfT lists a series of new measures in the updated Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) aimed at improving cyclist and pedestrian safety. It also highlights Highways England’s commitments to increasing safety and reducing severance on the strategic road network and the Government’s commitment to providing cycle training to school children.

Better mobility

DfT highlights that the forthcoming Buses Bill will provide authorities with the ability to better integrate bus services with sustainable travel options such as cycling and walking facilities. DfT will also continue to explore opportunities for promoting cycling and walking in franchise specifications for rail operators and through mechanisms such as the New Stations Fund.

DfT will issue guidance on developing LCWIPs in summer 2016 which will build on good practice from across the UK and will include a level of service tool to help local bodies assess how well infrastructure meets cyclists’ and pedestrians’ needs as well as a directory of design guidance to encourage high quality infrastructure solutions that support increased walking and cycling. The LCWIP guidance and examples of good practice will be promoted through the Cycle Proofing Working Group. A National Propensity to Cycle Tool will be launched in summer 2016 which will enable local bodies to identify areas of high cycling propensity. A prototype of this has already been published.

DfT commits to continue to support the use of behaviour change projects to support cycling and walking and to reduce administrative burdens in bidding for the new Access revenue fund.

Last year DfT funded 11 pilot projects to trial electric cycle sharing schemes. A report on these is due to be published in summer 2016 and DfT will build on the lessons learnt to continue to promote the use of Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles. They will also work to increase the awareness of the use of cycles as a mobility aid.

Better streets

DfT has commissioned a research project into the effectiveness of 20mph speed limits which is due to be completed by the end of 2017. During 2016 it will be working with a range of stakeholders to examine the legal and financial implications of an alternative pavement parking regime and the likely impacts on local authorities. This section also provides information on the Paths 4 Communities scheme and Rights of Way Improvement Plans (ROWIPs).

DfT will work across Government and with local bodies to ensure new housing projects are designed using the principles to encourage walking and cycling through supporting infrastructure and the provision of local services accessible by walking and cycling. They will also be commissioning a six month review of how application of the existing planning framework can be improved in relation to walking and cycling.

Comment

This is an investment strategy without any new investment. Little wonder then that sustainable transport campaigners’ reaction to it has primarily been one of disappointment. Many of these campaigners lobbied hard for the changes to the Infrastructure Act 2015 which require the Government to produce a CWIS, and they will have been hoping for something far more ambitious than the current draft.

Tom Platt, Head of Policy at Living Streets described the strategy as ‘an important first step towards Government recognising walking as a serious transport mode in its own right and an integral part of the network’ but expressed disappointment that the draft strategy does not contain measurable targets for walking and is concerned about the lack of funding.

While, in theory, there is now a long-term investment plan for cycling and walking in the same way as there is for roads and railways, in practice, there is still a huge imbalance in the level of investment for the different modes. Roger Geffen of Cycling UK (previously CTC), told Transport Network: ‘Spending on trunk roads and motorways is set to sky-rocket, while cycle investment plummets. Hence this document is little more than a desperate attempt by officials to “big up” the pittance made available by ministers. I see no sign that the sums involved, or the way DfT plans to spend these, are remotely consistent with their entirely laudable aims.’

Concerns have also been raised recently [£ paywall] about the £500 million Access Fund for sustainable transport which forms part of the DfT’s core contribution to the Local Growth Fund. This is not ringfenced so it is not clear how much, if any of it, will be spent on sustainable transport projects. Recent analysis of LEPs’ proposed spending on new transport projects shows that that two-thirds of bids are for road-based schemes and only 3% specifically for walking and cycling.

No doubt many of the responses to the consultation will be arguing for more funding to support the implementation of the strategy. There is strong evidence on the value-for-money and health benefits of active travel to back up these arguments but it remains to be seen whether the Government will commit more money to walking and cycling when the final strategy is published later this year.

Related briefings

Update on public health and planning: Spring 2016

The economic case for active travel

Integrating sustainable transport, road safety and public health

 

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