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Active Travel: ESCC plan out to consultation as DfT announces £175m for new schemes

While a consultation is under way on East Sussex County Council’s walking and cycling plan, the Department for Transport has announced funding of £175m for projects approved in the second phase of its Emergency Active Travel Fund – together with stringent conditions to be met by councils applying for it. Nick Terdre reports, photos by Russell Jacobs.

A public consultation is under way on East Sussex County Council’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan on 30 October. The plan includes proposals for improving the cycling and walking infrastructure in the county, though as it stresses, all work is dependent on securing funding. The consultation – see below – runs until 11 December.

Last week the Department for Transport announced funding of £175m for the second phase of the Emergency Active Travel Fund. This is a high-profile campaign – despite the turmoil in his inner circle even prime minister Boris Johnson found time to contribute a quote.

“We want to do everything we can to make it easy for people to include some activity in their daily routines – whether that’s cycling to work or walking safely to school,” he said.

“We can see the public’s strong appetite for greener and more active travel, and this funding will help ensure the right infrastructure is in place to build truly active neighbourhoods.”

The reference to the “public’s strong appetite for greener and more active travel” is based on the findings of a recent survey for the DfT which found that 65% of respondents in England expressed support for reallocating road space to cycling and walking in their local area, while 78% backed measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood.

Transport minister Grant Shapps wants to see significant changes to road layouts in favour of cyclists and pedestrians.

Changes to road layouts

Significant changes to road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians are among the changes the government expects local authorities to make, transport minister Grant Shapps said. “Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel.”

The £175m to be dispersed in the second phase of funding is for permanent schemes, unlike the temporary measures of the first phase. It will enable councils to put in place measures such as:

  • ‘School Streets’, where streets around schools are closed to motorists at school times
  • low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), where residential side streets are closed to through traffic to stop rat-running
  • segregated cycle lanes
  • pedestrian improvements.

Evaluation of early School Streets projects has shown traffic outside schools was reduced on average by 68%, while children cycling to school increased by 51% and harmful vehicle pollution outside schools was down by almost three quarters, according to the DfT.

However, the transport secretary has set tough new conditions on councils receiving funding, requiring them to ensure schemes are properly consulted on. “This will help avoid the problems seen in a minority of the schemes developed in the first round of funding.”

As an example of schemes which had made “less meaningful change to the status quo,” Shapps cited pavement widenings using barriers in town centres.

Stringent conditions

Among conditions applying in the second round, councils will have to publish plans showing how they intend to consult their communities, show evidence of appropriate consultation before implementing schemes and provide feedback on the functioning of schemes once they have been in place for six-12 months.

Failure to comply will mean that future funding allocations will be reduced and claw-backs could be imposed.

The problem met by ESCC when it came to implementing its first-round schemes was that it in effect allowed a veto to local traders over measures such as footway widening and road closures to traffic, with the result that only six of 16 approved projects actually went ahead.

Life returns to normal in Pelham Place where barriers used to widen the footway have been removed following objections from local traders.

The county council even accepted belated lobbying from local traders to put a premature end to the one scheme implemented in Hastings, where the widening of the south-side footway in Pelham Place was removed earlier this month. The scheme had, admittedly, not proved a hit with the public, according to local press reports.

ESCC’s allocation for phase two is £1.82m. It is now waiting for confirmation from DfT on which of its proposals have been approved – possibly all of them. They include School Streets schemes for eight schools, including All Saints Junior in Hastings and Little Common School in Bexhill. Walking enhancements have also been proposed in Hastings and Bexhill.

All the proposals are identified as priority schemes in the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, ESCC says.

Go here to participate in the consultation on the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. Comments can be submitted until 11 December.


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Posted 16:59 Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020 In: Transport


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Anna Sabin

    Indeed – do the consultation for East Sussex County Council – let them know you care. But beware of them having you comment only on their Cycle Lanes, Greenways, Seaside routes and School Streets, helpful though they will be.

    We live on, and will have to travel on, roads full of traffic before we get to these traffic free routes. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods mean High Traffic main routes – horrible for the people who live there and horrible to drive.

    ESCC have to work to give us alternative ways to get around – Clean Air Zone status so electric vehicles make our deliveries, better buses for every neighbourhood, car pools so we don’t have to own cars to use one occasionally.

    Comment by Anna Sabin — Thursday, Nov 19, 2020 @ 14:46

  2. Julia Hilton

    It is really important that people respond to the walking and cycling consultation. We need to show we expect high ambition from East Sussex CC. Some points you could make include.
    ESCC walking and cycling consultation – comments

    1. Need to put installing cycling and walking infrastructure at the heart of the strategy. No good focussing on behaviour change without the safe walking and cycling routes to support that change.

    Making cycling and walking a priority for new developments. Cycling and walking infrastructure must be prioritised before car journeys. This needs to be made very clear to developers submitting planning applications.

    Need to add that the Cycling and walking strategy will make a clear case for investing in cycling and walking to counter the vociferous minority of car drivers who make the loudest noise about these changes away from car priorities. For example investing in cycling infrastructure takes a third less road space compared to cars and cycle lanes through town centres can increase retail sales by a quarter. See Living Streets Pedestrian Pound Report 2018 and Tfl’s Report ‘Walking and Cycling, the economic benefits’

    Comment by Julia Hilton — Thursday, Nov 19, 2020 @ 08:40

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