Active Travel England will make several ambitious announcements this year to give people more choice in how they travel, said Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman.
The first announcement is a $47 million capacity fund to train experts to meet the Department of Transportation’s commitment to increase the number of people walking and cycling.
The Capability Fund is part of the UK Government’s multi-year budget for Active Travel England of $2.42 billion.
“We need to build an army of local engineers and officers who can deliver consistently high standards across the country,” Boardman told Forbes.com.
“And this fund is part of that startup. So it’s about enabling local authorities to make active travel even more valuable than it already is by building internal capacity. »
“What we’re also injecting here is choice,” Boardman continued.
“It’s about giving people real choice about how they travel, because one of those choices, active travel, is underrepresented. And we need qualified people who can navigate the system. By spring, we hope to have a training module for all local authorities to help them develop their capacities. »
Boardman said it would be a “national machine churning out a pipeline of high-quality programs across the country.”
These must be consistent across the country, he stressed.
“So wherever you are, when you see a sign with a bike on it or someone walking, you know you’re going to have a good experience. This program aims to build that capacity within all local authorities who want to do it. “
Boardman added that active travel was now “highly valued” within the Department for Transport.
“Politically, there is also very good support for this now,” he pointed out.
The Capability Fund, Boardman said, would create a “national machine that could then drive the regional machines.”
“It’s quite exciting,” he said.
“And exhausting. It took a long time to get here. But finally, we are ready to start doing the work at our own pace.
Poor health, traffic congestion, climate change and many other problems could be alleviated if more people moved on their own, Boardman said.
“Active travel is a big part of the solution,” he said.
“It’s the mode of transportation that punches above its weight.”
The Capability Fund will help local authorities train and retain local engineers and planners, creating a skilled and active travel workforce that can engage effectively with local communities and lead planning sessions. high-quality engagement and consultation, according to a statement from Active Travel England published on January 2. .