Active Travel England is to invest £32.9 million to create a national network of active travel experts.
They will work with communities, enhance high streets and make places walkable and cyclable for everyone.
Launched yesterday, 2nd January, by active travel minister Jesse Norman, the fund could see up to 1,300 new green jobs created across England, and aims to drive thousands of local plans, co-created with communities.
Norman said: “Leaving the car and walking and cycling instead is an easy way to get fit, save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Better designed schemes, which take into account the views of local people will help deliver improvements that have widespread local support.
“Skills training and local community engagement will help local authorities to make active travel an attractive choice for getting around.”
The Capability Fund will support local authorities across the country to train and retain local engineers and planners, creating a skilled active travel workforce able to collaborate effectively with local communities and conduct high-quality engagement and consultation sessions.
As well as enabling local authorities to hire and retain skilled professionals, the investment will also deliver specialised training. The funding will also be used to give travel choice to a wider demographic by engaging under-represented groups, provide cycle training and bike rental schemes.
National active travel commissioner Chris Boardman said: “If we want millions more people to walk, wheel and cycle to schools, shops and workplaces, we need to give them what they need to make the switch.
“Delivering schemes that offer an attractive choice takes technical skill, local knowledge, and community involvement. Survey after survey has shown people want the choice to be able to use the car a bit less and would love their kids to have more transport independence, so we aim to ensure they are at the heart of creating the right solution for their area. 2023 is the year Active Travel England will start to make that happen.”
Living Streets’ chief executive Stephen Edwards added: “Our streets are used by everyone, so they should be designed with everyone in mind. The Capability Fund will boost the quality of our places and support people to choose cleaner and healthier ways to get around. We look forward to working with local authorities to increase walking and wheeling across the country.”
Funded activities include bespoke training for local authority officers and local councillors, development of Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs), network design and planning, feasibility studies, public engagement/consultation and co-design, and data and evidence collection.
The funding will also be used to engage under-represented groups and enable more children to walk, wheel and cycle to school. Community engagement programmes will give individuals the confidence to walk and cycle safely through cycle training, school walking groups and bike rental schemes.