MPs' call for Government departments to champion active travel welcomed

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, has welcomed a call by MPs for Government departments to champion active travel

The House of Commons Transport Committee today published a report on active Travel which urges the Government to provide the leadership and ambition required to increase levels of walking and cycling.

Cllr Groves said: “This report adds to the already compelling case for ongoing investment into active travel schemes and initiatives. From connecting people with places, to reducing air pollution and congestion, and combating physical inactivity and obesity, we know increasing the numbers of people choosing to travel by bike or on foot has a vital role to play in making our region a great place to live, work and play.

“Through our dedicated CityConnect programme, the Combined Authority will have invested £60 million by 2020 in cycling and walking schemes across West Yorkshire and York, in addition to an estimated £69 million being spent as part of our West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, from the Local Growth Fund by March 2021.

“Alongside our partners, we have built new cycling and walking routes and we are working to help people change their travel behaviours through a series of initiatives including free adult cycle training and bike maintenance sessions, and support for businesses, schools and grassroots initiatives. 

“Our investment in infrastructure is enabling more people to cycle – 26% more people used the Leeds-Bradford Cycle Superhighway between May and July 2018, compared to the same period in the previous year. Investment on the Leeds Liverpool Canal Towpath lead to a 30% increase in use in these summer months in 2018 compared to 2016.

“We want our region to be a place where everyone benefits from a modern transport network and the role of cycling and walking to help achieve this cannot be underestimated. We will continue to explore future funding opportunities to keep up this momentum.”

Ben Still, Managing Director of the Combined Authority  and lead board member for active travel at the Urban Transport Group, said: “We strongly welcome this call from MPs for greater leadership from across Whitehall departments on the urgent task of shifting more short journeys from the car to by foot or by bike.

“The forthcoming Spending Review will provide a key test of the Government's commitment to providing transport authorities with the long term and stable funding for local transport they need to invest in schemes which will get more people walking and cycling.

“Walking and cycling have a key role to play in the imperative of reducing carbon emissions from transport, as well as offering wider health, social and economic benefits to people and communities.

“With the right funding deal and leadership from national Government, we can ensure active travel delivers a win win for people and the planet.”

Find out more about the new Select Committee report.

Evidence

Mr Still and Katie Edmondson from the Combined Authority’s CityConnect team gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee in April. During the session they cited the construction of the segregated Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway through the CityConnect programme combined with support for people wanting to take up cycling as effective in encouraging active travel

Since securing over £18 million of funding by the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Grant, West Yorkshire Combined Authority has been delivering schemes that supporting sustainable and active travel through its CityConnect programme.

Cycle Superhighway

Completed projects include the 14km, segregated Cycle Superhighway connecting Bradford and Leeds, which people have used to make approaching one million journeys by bike or on foot, and recently-opened extensions between Bradford and Shipley and through Leeds city centre.

In York, people are using the recently-opened, £4.4 million, CityConnect upgrade of the Scarborough Bridge - the first new city centre bridge over the Ouse in York for 137 years starts - to make 4,000 trips per day. This is already an increase of 1,000 additional journeys per day on the old footbridge.

Safer streets

CityConnect schemes which are also taking place across Leeds, York, Bradford, Wakefield and Huddersfield centres and the region’s canal towpaths, along with the introduction of a number of 20mph zones to create safer surrounding streets.

In addition to infrastructure schemes, CityConnect has also supported training and advice sessions to help people get into the habit of cycling and walking and giving them the practical experience and confidence to do so.

Find out more about the City Connect programme. 

The Urban Transport Group is the UK’s network of seven city region transport authorities  covering West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, London, Sheffield City Region, Tyne and Wear ( and the West Midlands representing serving more than 20 million people between them. The Group is also a wider professional network with associate members in Strathclyde, West of England, Tees Valley, Nottingham and Northern Ireland.

Find out more about the Urban Transport Group.