The Prime Minister has today (27 July 2020) unveiled the Government’s ‘most ambitious plans yet to boost cycling and walking’.

The 33-point Cycling and Walking Plan follows the Government’s Obesity Strategy and focuses on the role walking and cycling can play in getting the nation moving, along with its function in reducing carbon emissions.

Publishing the report, the Department for Transport said “(the) new plan aims to build on the significant increase in the number of people cycling during the pandemic. It sets out a comprehensive, long term vision to increase active travel and embed the benefits of walking and cycling into how we live, work and get around.”

Within the plan the Government commits to better streets for walking and cycling overseen by a new body – ‘Active Travel England’, and a consultation on the Highway Code.

Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, supports the plan to encourage more walking and cycling.

Walking and cycling

Jenni Wiggle, Interim CEO, Living Streets comments:

“This announcement is fantastic news for walking and cycling. Investing in safe, convenient and attractive conditions for walking and cycling brings a range of benefits that will help deliver the Government’s priorities around obesity and climate change.

“Walking is the most accessible form of exercise and can help people maintain a healthy weight. Yet our streets don’t support walking. Placing walking and cycling at the heart of our transport system will allow us to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger and is essential for transport decarbonisation. 

“Low traffic neighbourhoods, better crossings, 20mph limits, School Streets and segregated cycle lanes can all help reshape our streets into ones that promote healthier travel choices. Measures to reduce traffic in neighbourhoods and provide local authorities with new powers to enforce new schemes will further boost their effectiveness.”

This announcement is fantastic news for walking and cycling. Investing in safe, convenient and attractive conditions for walking and cycling brings a range of benefits that will help deliver the Government’s priorities around obesity and climate change.

Jenni Wiggle, Interim CEO, Living Streets

 

As part of the package of measures, the Government has launched a consultation on its proposed revisions to the Highway Code. A key feature of the proposals is the idea of a ‘hierarchy of responsibility’, with road users who cause the greatest harm having a greater responsibility to reduce the threat they pose to others.

The Highway Code consultation applies across England, Scotland and Wales. 

There are also proposed changes at zebra crossings and junctions to give pedestrians priority and additional narrative on the dangers of speeding. At the heart of the proposed changes is the belief that “the purpose of the Highway Code is to promote safety on the road, whilst also supporting a healthy, sustainable and efficient transport system.”

Jenni Wiggle, Interim CEO, Living Streets continues:

“The Highway Code currently treats all road users – from children walking to lorry drivers – as if they are equally responsible for their own or other people’s safety. However, people walking cause the least road danger but are often left paying the price.

“Pedestrians account for a quarter of road deaths, with the latest figures showing increases amongst vulnerable groups: children and older people . Road users who have potential to cause the greatest harm, such as the drivers of large motor vehicles, should also take the greatest share of responsibility to reduce the danger they pose.

“The renewed focus on unsafe speeding is welcome and incredibly timely. Lockdown saw a minority of people viewing quieter roads as an invitation to drive recklessly. Not only does speed kill but it creates an environment where only the brave dare use our streets to walk or cycle.

“Whether we choose to drive or cycle, we are all pedestrians. These proposed revisions will benefit all of us.”

Living Streets is part of the Walking and Cycling Alliance which has been calling for improved infrastructure for walking and cycling, along with changes to the Highway code.

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