How Northumberland spent its emergency travel funding

No pop-up bike lanes or other new cycling routes have so far been created in Northumberland using Government cash to boost greener, active transport.

By Ben O'Connell
Friday, 31st July 2020, 1:12 pm

In May, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched the £250million emergency active travel fund, which the Government said would mean ‘pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors being created in England within weeks’.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the plans aimed to ‘help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport, making healthier habits easier and helping make sure the road, bus and rail networks are ready to respond to future increases in demand’.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Umbrellas at the ready in Narrowgate, Alnwick, where street cafe seating was set up. Northumberland County Council says it has put funding in to help town centres operate safely during the pandemic.

The Government also said that fast-tracked statutory guidance, effective immediately, would tell councils to reallocate road space for significantly-increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians.

The North East Joint Transport Committee was handed £2.26million in the first round of the emergency active travel fund, with an indicative second allocation of £9.05million.

A Northumberland County Council spokesman said: “Northumberland was allocated £161,000 of the first round of funding, which we focused on delivering temporary measures as part of our work in reopening town centres.

“These were aimed at creating more space for residents and visitors by suspending parking and loading bays, removing street clutter, creating one-way walking routes and adjusting timings of pedestrian crossings and traffic lights. We will also be improving cycle parking facilities.

“In terms of tranche two, this is work in progress and yet to be finalised.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced measures to boost cycling and walking, to be supported by the £2billion of funding over the next five years announced in February.

One of the four strands of this new vision is empowering and encouraging local authorities, something which was welcomed by the Local Government Association, which represents councils.

Its transport spokesman, Cllr David Renard, said: “It is councils who know their local areas best, so they should be given the freedom to work with their local communities to get on with planning active travel infrastructure such as cycling schemes.”

In June, Northumberland County Council’s cabinet endorsed a refreshed cycling and walking strategy, drawn up by a range of partners.

The aspirations for 2025 include that the majority of journeys in Northumberland under a mile will be walked and under five miles will be cycled, that the county will have the highest levels of active travel to school and the lowest school-run congestion in the UK, and that the county will be the most walked and cycled tourist destination in the country.

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIP) are in the process of being drawn up for each of Northumberland’s main towns to ‘enable a long-term approach to the development of high-quality walking and cycling networks and ensure investment is targeted to support a change in how we travel’.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers and consequently the advertising that we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news by buying a copy of our newspaper.

If you can, please do pick up a copy when you are at the shops. Thank you for your support.