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New vision will provide ‘vital boost’ for active travel post-Covid

A new plan for cycling and walking published by the Department for Transport has been welcomed by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

In a foreword to the document, the Prime Minister said that it was ‘a plan for unleashing our nation of cyclists’ and included measures to benefit the economy, cut air pollution and carbon emissions, and tackle causes of poor health.

The RTPI said that the plan embraced many of the recommendations in its own Plan the World We Need campaign, with positive measures on policy, funding, design and enforcement which will provide a vital boost to walking and cycling in post-Covid England.

RTPI Policy Manager James Harris said: “We fully support the Prime Minister’s ambition to place cycling and walking at the heart of transport policy, planning and place-making, and we look forward to working with DfT and MHCLG to deliver this vision for change. 

“In particular, we welcome the commitment to create a long-term budget for active travel, deliver cycling networks through highways investment and other funding programmes, and review the transport appraisal process. However, with car use threatening to rebound to higher levels post-Covid, wider measures will be needed to ensure that planned investment in the local and strategic road network does not continue to induce traffic.   

“We firmly agree that new housing and business developments should prioritise sustainable travel, including cycling and walking, and make it the first choice of journeys. We hope that Active Travel England can raise the bar for what is expected, and welcome the commitment to improve local authority capacity.

“However, strong and effective strategic planning is needed to ensure that new developments is located and designed in ways that support walking and cycling. Better resources, tools and incentives are also needed to support early engagement between planners, transport providers, developers and local communities.

“We look forward to seeing this reflected in updated Planning Practice Guidance on sustainable transport, but are concerned that the recent expansion of Permitted Development Rights will further reduce opportunities to shape new development, and limit financial contributions to much-needed local transport infrastructure.”

The RTPI says that its own forthcoming research will demonstrate how spatial planning can support transport decarbonisation by creating healthy places with high levels of public and active transport.


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