I was fortunate to be invited to a webinar today to hear Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Minister of State at the Department for Transport talking about Wheels in Motion: The Future of Urban Mobility
The talk covered two main items – rail transport and active travel.
Statistics show that February was this biggest month ever for train passengers and now, due to Covid, there is only 11% of capacity as everyone is urged to use other types of transport and social distancing rules are in effect. If distancing measures are reduced to 1m, trains will still only be able to run at 25% capacity and buses at about 33%. There needs to be other plans in place for everyone to travel in a new way, but still considering decarbonisation.
The Government has been thinking outside of the box for Active Travel. The first tranche of money is going out to every local authority to be used exclusively for infrastructure, both permanent and pop up, for wider pavements and safe space for cyclists.
The plan is to keep people in the new habit of cycling and walking and more must be done to promote this. “Never before have people been so interested in their health.” There is a fantastic opportunity to keep the population active and there is to be a trial of socially prescribing cycling for it’s health benefits.
To help create more Safer Cycling spaces there is going to be a plan to shorten the time it takes to deliver infrastructure projects. This will mean that new cycling projects can be implemented on the ground in a much shorter time span. There is also new guidance on what local authorities need to do to attract money from Government for these Safe Cycling spaces.
In the small window for questions at the end I asked “Are you looking at any further measures to promote electric bikes to consumers?” Chris referred back to the Cycle to Work Scheme which has had its upper limit removed, making it easier to access an electric bike.
Sue Coulson – 23rd June 2020