Active Travel

No more reports please, let’s have some action

I have been looking at a few documents published by Public Health England, HM Government and Cheshire East.

In May 2016 Public Health England published Working Together to Promote Active Travel the first paragraph says “Walking and cycling are good for our physical and mental health. Switching more journeys to active travel will improve health, quality of life and the environment, and local productivity, while at the same time reducing costs to the public purse. These are substantial ‘win-wins’ that benefit individual people and the community as a whole.”

In 2017 the Government produced its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. The front page says “We want to make cycling and walking the natural choices for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey.”

In March 2019 the government published Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy in which it says “Walking, cycling and active travel must remain the best options for short urban journeys.”

The Cheshire East local transport plan 2019 to 2024 paragraph 1 of section 5 says “Active travel such as walking and cycling, complementing an effective bus and rail network, should be at the heart of any transport strategy aiming to achieve a transport system which offers travel choice.”

In March 2020 the DfT published a document called Decarbonising Transport. The ministerial forward says

 “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network. “

In Network response to Covid-19 May 2020 Grant Shapps writes “Active travel is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use. Towns and cities based around active travel will have happier and healthier citizens as well as lasting local economic benefits.”

July 2020 we saw Gear change in which the Prime Minister says “We want – and need – to see a step-change in cycling and walking in the coming years.”

There are many other documents that say basically the same thing.  When I look at Congleton and ask how do these words translate to some physical infrastructure, besides a bit of white paint and a couple of blue signs, I see a cycle track that runs along West Road for about 200 yards where a cyclist going from Forge Lane to West Street has to give way to motor traffic and a bus shelter no fewer than 7 times.  A cyclist coming up Clayton Bypass has to give way to some tactile paving for no apparent reason while on the wrong side of the carriage way. I kid you not, please take a look. As the Chair of Active Travel Congleton I am obviously frustrated by the lack of progress but if these documents have any truth, and I believe they do, Congleton residents are not only being deprived of valuable health benefits that come from creating safe cycling and walking routes in the town but taxpayer money is being wasted on reports when it could be used to actually build some infrastructure. If anybody wants safe cycling routes to school, cleaner air,  a more pleasant walking environment, more pedestrian crossings then I invite you to support our movement and sign up on our website at www.atcongleton.uk