Photo credit: Visit Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight projects encouraging active travel receive funding boost

Isle of Wight projects encouraging green travel will receive a £175,662 Government investment boost.

All English transport authorities (outside London) were invited to submit proposals to the Department for Transport Capability Fund in the spring of this year. The Isle of Wight Council successfully received a share of the £30 million available for 2021/22.

It will support existing Isle of Wight Council and partnership projects over the next year, to further encourage walking and cycling on the Island.

The funding is part of the Government ambition to make cycling and walking a natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of longer journeys by 2040, as set out in its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. It also aims to help local authorities to plan good active travel infrastructure.

Isle of Wight council leader, councillor Lora Peacey-Wilcox, said: “This is welcome news that we have received further funding for our sustainable transport projects. For the past ten years, the council has successfully bid for active travel funding. It has meant we have been able to build very strong partnerships between organisations and businesses. It has also seen residents really come on board with the active travel message.

“This further underlines the acknowledgement by the Department for Transport of our aim of reducing carbon emissions through greener travel options. This also links into our wider target through our Mission Zero climate and environment strategy which aims to see the Island carbon-neutral by 2040 — ten years before the Government target.”

The money will support:

– The existing Connct2Work project that engages with Island businesses to promote alternatives to single-occupancy private car journeys for commuting and business travel. This includes workplace travel planning, cycle maintenance, guided walks and rides, and offers aimed at improving access to new and existing employment

– Continued engagement with Island schools to promote active travel and reduce private car journeys linked with home to school travel

– The continuation of several projects which help community-level active travel, such as guided walks and cycle rides, travel challenges, including the PedalAid app. The app has been developed specifically for the Isle of Wight is and has achieved over 100,000km of cycling

– Further development of the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) beyond the established Newport and Ryde walking and cycling networks. This will let Town and Parish Councils apply for funding to support them to lead on the development of LCWIPs covering additional Island towns and settlements

Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, councillor Phil Jordan, said: “This welcome funding will let us further strengthen and continue our cycling, walking and green travel projects. I would also like to thank residents for joining us on our active travel journey.

“Our sustainable transport programme makes a real difference to Islanders lives by reducing harmful carbon emissions. It helps to remove barriers to work and gives people attractive alternatives to car use. We look forward to working with our current partner organisations and businesses to build on all we have achieved so far.”

Statistics for the council’s Sustainable Transport Access Fund extension year programme, covering the period 1st April 2020 to 31st April 2021, show the impact of COVID-19 on travel. The Island’s cycle counters show that 2020/21 was a boom year for cycling.

Total annual cycle trips were the highest on record in 2020 (despite the absence of leisure cycle trips made by visitors), and in the period April 2020 to March 2021 (i.e. the first year of the pandemic), there was a 31% year-on-year increase in cycling – almost 150,000 additional cycle trips. This trend has continued through the colder, shorter days of winter – when levels were up 61 % on the previous year – and into 2021.

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