In May, the British Transport Minister announced an emergency active travel fund to improve local active transport schemes in the context of Covid-19. This is a welcome move, given the urgent need to make more space for social distancing and reduce the number of short car journeys on our already congested roads. This funding should also help sustain the increase of interest in cycling during lock-down across the country, including Warwickshire.
However, last week it emerged that Warwickshire has only managed to secure £129,000 out of a possible £258,000 for Tranche 1 measures (support for temporary projects). This is very disappointing news, as provision for cyclists across Warwickshire is currently minimal and very poorly executed. The lack of well-designed cycling infrastructure has produced an unnecessary conflict over space between cars, pedestrians and cyclists, and this is likely to continue, if no action is taken. Poor cycling infrastructure prevents cycling from being seen as a serious alternative to short car journeys, and thus the trend of increasing air pollution and congestion in our towns continues.
In May, Cycleways, presented Warwickshire County council with a list of over 80 recommendations for improvements to cycling infrastructure across the county. These included urging the council to get on with already approved cycle routes between Leamington and Kenilworth and Leamington and Warwick, but also many other more low-cost and easily implementable opportunities to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians alike. Given the effect of air pollution on all of us, and the positive impact of cycling on physical and mental health, the lack of taking up such suggestions and properly planning for active travel lets down not only cyclists, but the population as a whole.
We thus call on the council again to make well-designed cycling infrastructure a key priority, taking into account the needs of a wide range of cyclists, including children and the elderly, and working hard to secure the full amount of eligible Tranche 2 funding for more long-term measures.
We also invite those who would like to support our work to improve provision for cyclists in the district to join us