Sustrans, LCC, CIWEM and IAM give thumbs up to government proposal to launch a cross-departmental body to boost cycling and walking

Office for Active Travel launch is a ‘positive step forward’

The news broken by BikeBiz on Friday, that the government is close to launching the Office for Active Travel, has been met with positive responses from cycle advocates.

The likes of Sustrans, London Cycling Campaign and Institute of Advanced Motorists have been keen to welcome the news, with the proviso that the Office for Active Travel will have the power and funding to make an impact.

Sustrans Policy Director Jason Torrance told BikeBiz: “Any initiative that puts cycling at the heart of the government’s priorities is a positive step forward.

“An Office for Active Travel could provide the framework for much needed cross-departmental cooperation on cycling, but must also be backed up with policy changes and substantial funding over a number of years.

“A coordinated approach to increasing cycling levels across the UK will return significant benefits to our economy and allow us all to lead healthier, more active lives," Torrance added.

Also responding to the news, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) chief executive Ashok Sinha told BikeBiz: "The London Cycling Campaign would welcome a cross-departmental government body that had substantial spending capacity and power to direct ministries towards policies that benefit cycling and walking.

"As called for in the APPCG Get Britain Cycling report, any such body should have clearly framed short-term and long-term targets to increase cycling use and safety, and the Prime Minister should appoint a government cycling champion, preferably at Cabinet-level, to make sure these targets are reached."

CIWEMhanded this statement to BikeBiz on the news of the launch: “As the largest chartered professional body and charity for an integrated approach to the environment and the public realm, CIWEM is keen to see streets and shared outdoor spaces as places that not only suit all forms of transport, but also provide social, health and environmental benefits for all.

"Last week, in our policy statement on Active Transport, we called on Government to sponsor the development of an active transport knowledge repository, advisory and professional development centre. The Institution would enthusiastically welcome this and commit to working with Ministers on a new Office for Active Travel, putting cycling and walking at the heart of urban living and the transformation of Britain’s towns and cities.”

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) backed the news too, saying the time is right for such a department, but added a caveat that funding must not be cut from other road-related pots.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research, told us: "The creation of OAT is an interesting development and one that has our backing providing the funding is not siphoned from already hard pressed maintenance or road safety budgets. In road safety it is leadership and clear objectives that are crucial to success and setting up a department to champion active travel will bring much greater clarity. 

"With opinion formers constantly being told to ‘go Dutch’ when it comes to cycling and walking it is clear that an innovative approach is needed if we are ever to get the infrastructure needed. If you also factor in the rise in injury accidents among vulnerable road users in 2011 then the time is right for a fresh injection of thinking and action."

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