The Welsh Government has announced a £38m investment in local active travel measures. This is on top of a £15.4m spending commitment announced last month.
The new money will fund projects to make it safer for children and adults to get to school or work on foot, bike or scooter.
The Active Travel Fund provides £20m directly for 25 larger schemes and packages of schemes in 14 local authorities. In addition, it provides all local authorities with a share of £9m to take forward smaller improvements on their active travel networks and prepare larger schemes for being brought forward.
The Safe Routes in Communities grant of £4.14m will support 22 schemes, specifically focused on creating safe walking and cycling routes to schools across 17 local authorities.
The Road Safety Capital grant of £3.88m will support 18 schemes across 12 local authorities. All local authorities have been awarded a share of £950,000 revenue to take forward training initiatives.
Schemes include £259,500 to build a walkway over the railway bridge near Ysgol Ty Fynnon in Shotton and install of cycle friendly traffic calming features along King George Street. The funding will also improve an existing footpath to provide better access to the Job Centre, swimming pool and library.
In Neath Port Talbot, £205,000 will be used to implement 20mph speed limits outside six schools, as well as improving road markings and laying anti-skid surfacing to make it far safer for children walking and cycling to school.
Deputy Minister Lee Waters said: “The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed our lives. It stopped our daily routines in their tracks and has forced us all to live differently. Coronavirus has brought much hardship and tragedy. It has also presented us with a golden opportunity for change – one which I am determined to grasp with both hands.
“More people than ever before are walking and cycling to work, visit friends and pop to the shop. With fewer cars on the road, first-time cyclists have had the confidence to rent, borrow or buy a bike, rather than reaching for the car keys. However, as coronavirus restrictions ease and our roads become busier, it’s vital our roads remain walking and cycle-friendly if a long term change to our travel habits is to succeed.”
Sustrans Cymru welcomed the Welsh Government’s announcement, sating it will "significantly help" make it safer for people to walk, cycle or scoot for local journeys, including getting to school or work. However, Sustrans said this will require local authorities to act quickly to keep the momentum going on the current increases in walking and cycling levels.
Ryland Jones, Sustrans Cymru deputy director, said: “We’ve seen a big increase in the numbers of people choosing to walk, cycle or scoot during the lockdown period. As life begins to return to normal and our roads get busier, it’s vital that people keep seeing active travel as a safe and viable option, or we risk returning to car dominance.
“The Welsh Government needs to enable more people to leave their cars at home, and walk, cycle or scoot for short trips, particularly in our towns and cities. The £38m investment will go a long way in helping to make our communities healthier and happier places to live.”
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