Active travel: increasing levels of walking and cycling in England Contents

4Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans

37.The Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) depends on local authorities delivering the necessary improvements for pedestrians and cyclists across England. Helping local authorities develop and implement plans to increase levels of cycling and walking at a local level is essential if the CWIS is to succeed.

Support for developing Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans

38.The Government has produced guidance for local authorities on preparing Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs).73 These plans are intended to help local transport authorities take a long-term approach to identifying and delivering interventions fit for their own local areas. Local authorities are not required to adopt an LCWIP, but the Government has said that it is “keen that as many areas as possible do so”.74 Phil Jones, an independent transport planner who is helping a number of local authorities develop these plans, told us that LCWIPs are “seen by DfT as the main vehicle for delivering the aims and objectives of [its] Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy”.75

39.To help local authorities develop these plans, the Government has provided funding for technical support—which includes study visits and training for highway engineers.76 This was made available on a competitive basis; 78 local authorities in England expressed an interest in the support, and 46 will receive it.77 Guy Boulby, Head of Cycling and Walking at the DfT, told us that the local authorities receiving this support covered about 40% of the population of England.78

40.Our evidence was broadly supportive of the push for LCWIPs, the Government’s guidance and its support for developing these plans. Sustrans said that: “For too long cycling and walking planning has been piecemeal”, and that by “developing a network plan, [local transport authorities] can more easily sell improvements that are delivered over multiple years.”79 We have heard examples of local authorities setting themselves ambitious targets for increasing levels of walking and cycling as part of their LCWIPs. Katie Edmondson, from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, told us that they wanted to increase trips by bike by 300%, and trips by walking by 10% by 2027.80 Claire Williams, from Transport for the West Midlands, told us they were aiming to increase cycling by 400%, but said that while they wanted to see an increase in walking they did not have specific targets for this.81 Mark Lynam, from the Sheffield City Region, told us that they wanted to increase cycling by 350% and walking by 21%.82 In Manchester we heard how £160 million had been ring-fenced to deliver a Greater Manchester-wide walking and cycling infrastructure plan, which is expected to end up costing £1.5 billion over 10 years.83

41.While the guidance on and support for developing LCWIPs has been largely welcomed by our witnesses, some local transport authorities complained that support had been insufficient. Kent County Council stated that they had not been one of the first local authorities to receive support to develop an LCWIP, which disadvantaged districts in their area who had matched funding available to invest in active travel and needed help earlier.84 Laura Wells, from Brighton and Hove City Council, said that they had bid for but not been successful in securing support for developing an LCWIP, and that more support in this area would be helpful.85 The then Minister told us that the Government had a role in assessing how LCWIPs were being implemented, with a view to rewarding good behaviour, best practice and consistent investment.86

42.Looking to the future, Mr Boulby, Head of Cycling and Walking at the DfT, told us that LCWIPs were a pilot programme at present, and that the 46 authorities currently being supported were the first tranche,87 although it is not clear what plans the Department has to further role out this support. Phil Jones, an independent transport planner, told us that the Government should require local authorities to produce local plans for active travel, so that there was a duty to plan for walking and cycling.88

43.Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans appear to be the main vehicle through which the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will be delivered, and we welcome their development as a mechanism for local authorities to take a long-term approach to identifying and delivering interventions to increase levels of walking and cycling. We also welcome the support the Department for Transport has provided to help local authorities develop LCWIPs, and we were impressed by the level of ambition that several local authorities have shown for increasing levels of walking and cycling in their areas. While we note that the LCWIP programme is a pilot, and the initial support for developing these plans was made available on a competitive basis, we believe that ultimately there should be LCWIPs for the whole of England. We recommend that the Government assess how successful the LCWIP pilot has been in helping local authorities develop plans that will ensure the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy is delivered. If LCWIPs have helped local authorities prioritise active travel and develop plans for increasing walking and cycling at a local level, in a way that represents good value for money, then the Government should be clear that it expects all local authorities to develop these plans, and should commit to providing technical support to help all local authorities in England develop their LCWIPs.

44.If LCWIPs are to be the main mechanism by which the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will be delivered, it is important that the Government has a clear plan for encouraging local authorities to develop LCWIPs and for monitoring their contribution to the delivery of the CWIS. We recommend that, as part of the process for reporting on progress delivering the CWIS, the Government set out plans for monitoring and reporting on delivery of LCWIPs, including an assessment of the contribution they have made to the delivery of the Government’s Strategy.

Funding for Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans

45.Central to the question of whether LCWIPs will be successful is how much funding will be available for their delivery. Phil Jones told us that “what local authority officers would value more than anything is a long-term dedicated funding stream to deliver the schemes identified and prioritised by the LCWIPs”.89 He told the Committee: “If it is just a plan and sits on the shelf, it has been a complete waste of time. It has to lead quickly into actual schemes on the ground.”90 Similarly, Mark Lynam from Sheffield City Region said:

the LCWIP […] is a lovely process, but if it does not actually result in any subsequent interventions, because the funding is not there from Government, what was the point of the process? A nationally led process such as LCWIP is good, but it has to be followed up with something.91

46.Cycling UK said that “The single most important budget-line that needs adding to a new CWIS is one for funding the implementation of Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs).”92 They state that “most councils currently lack any earmarked funding to deliver their plans—and this inevitably limits their ability to draw up ambitious long-term plans in the first place, given the lack of confidence as to whether they will be able to deliver them”. In a similar vein, Dr Rachel Aldred, Reader in Transport at the University of Westminster, told us that “We need to know what will happen once authorities have produced LCWIPs. An obvious next step would be for DfT to make dedicated […] ongoing funding available for plans reaching a certain quality standard. This will involve a substantial uplift in investment in active travel”.93 She pointed out that active travel infrastructure was excellent value and much cheaper than new road schemes. Sustrans have called for “a mechanism whereby priority schemes identified through the LCWIP process are awarded funding either through central government or through regional allocations such as the Transforming Cities Fund or Local Growth Fund”.94 The Government has stated that LCWIPs are:

[…] used by Local Authorities to identify and prioritise investment for cycling and walking schemes from local funds and relevant national funding streams, such as the Highways Maintenance Fund, Integrated Transport Block, Transforming Cities Fund, Future High Streets Fund, Housing Infrastructure Fund and the Clean Air Fund. Decisions on future funding for cycling and walking will be made in the context of the forthcoming Spending Review.95

47.In addition to funding to deliver infrastructure improvements, we have been told that revenue funding will be needed to fully unlock the benefits of new infrastructure. The Urban Transport Group has called for “sustained revenue support in order to maintain active travel infrastructure, and to pay for the staff who plan infrastructure and staff involved in ‘soft’ measures to promote active travel (such as cycle training)”.96 The North East Combined Authority has said that “research has suggested that the greatest impacts can be achieved by a mix of capital and revenue funding, but recent funding opportunities have tended to be focused almost exclusively on capital funding”.97 Living Streets told us that complementary funding for activity to develop infrastructure projects and encourage behaviour change was crucial.98 These points were emphasised in oral evidence from walking and cycling stakeholder groups, who said that local authorities should be spending about 70% of money on capital investment, and 30% on revenue support.99

48.Most funds provided by central government in relation to active travel are for infrastructure improvements, and we have heard that the Government does not provide revenue funding to enable local authorities to maximise and sustain the benefits of infrastructure improvements.100 The Government’s guidance on developing LCWIPs says that supporting behaviour change interventions—such as Bikeability courses for children, and equivalent courses for adults—are out of scope of these plans.101 This is despite a Government commissioned assessment of investment in cycling and walking finding that there is a strong consensus across the literature that the most effective approach to increasing cycling and walking is to implement a complementary package of measures.102 The report noted that “Infrastructural measures appear necessary but not sufficient to bring about change; and behavioural interventions in the absence of enabling infrastructure appear less likely to be successful”.

49.It is disappointing that, having developed guidance for local authorities to create Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans and encouraged them to do so, the Government has not created a clearer mechanism for funding the delivery of these plans. The Government has set out its ambitions for increasing levels of active travel. If the delivery of LCWIPs is essential to achieving those ambitions the Government needs to fund and support both the development and delivery of these plans. We have been told that financial support is required by local authorities not just to develop plans and improve infrastructure, but also to raise awareness and encourage behaviour change in order to realise the benefits of capital investment. Expecting local authorities to make active travel a priority without providing additional funding would mean that they would have to find resources within their existing—already strained—budgets. This is not realistic.

50.We consider funding for active travel in more detail in the next Chapter.

75 Phil Jones (ATR0099) para 2.1.7

77 PQ 191309 [on Cycling and Walking], 23 November 2018. The list of local authorities receiving this support is available here: Department for Transport, Technical support to plan cycling and walking networks: successful local authorities, January 2018

79 Sustrans (ATR0072) para 41

84 Kent County Council (ATR0030)

89 Phil Jones (ATR0099) para 2.1.9

92 Cycling UK (ATR0075) para 32

93 Dr Rachel Aldred (ATR0096)

94 Sustrans (ATR0072)

95 PQ 226518 [on Cycling and Walking: Infrastructure], 4 March 2019

96 Urban Transport Group (ATR0042) para 8.1

97 North East Combined Authority (ATR0059) para 32

98 Living Streets (ATR0062) para 10

Published: 23 July 2019