Active travel Act Meeting, Swansea May 2015

Active Travel Act Mapping Meeting

 

A few of us from Carmarthenshire went to Saturday's Active Travel Act Design Guidelines workshop in Swansea. You might find an update interesting and useful. 

For newcomers to the forum, one of our aims is to work with Carmarthenshire CC in ensuring that the duties that it has under the Active Travel Act are met and are not ignored. As a consequence understanding those duties is important to us as campaigners so firstly, here’s a brief introduction to the Act.

·         What is Active Travel?

Active Travel is any journey on foot or bicycle that is made to school, work, the shops, the cinema, church, chapel or wherever there is an ultimate destination. It does not mean leisure cycling, sportives or mountain biking around Brechfa.

·         Why “Active Travel”.

§  49% of all journeys in Wales are under 3 miles.

§  Only 1% of journeys are by bike.

§  25% of the morning peak traffic is “school run” but the average journey is just 1.4 miles. In fact,

§  18% of ALL journeys are under 1 mile!

The Welsh Government recognised that this situation is good for nobody, it is not sustainable in terms of the environment, natural resources, land use and possibly most importantly, the health of the nation.

So, what is stopping people from being more active? It has become apparent that simply “encouraging” people doesn’t work and that there are other factors at play:-

·         Problems

§  Built Environment. Our built infrastructure – roads and towns doesn’t make being active easy, people are worried about their safety and that of their children.

§  Lack of Budget. Quite simply there isn’t much money to do massive infrastructure development and Walking and Cycling have always been looked on as the poor relatives of motor transport.

§  Lack of priority. Related to the budget issue but also Active Travel hasn’t been seen as an economic generator – it is but this has only recently been understood.

§  No connected Transport Strategy.

The Active Travel Act (ATA) changes this and is a world’s first because:-

·         It places a legal duty on local authorities to ensure that Active Travel is prioritised and given REAL consideration in all future transport plans and developments. In fact, the Act goes as far as stating that, “in everything an Authority does in terms of improvements/maintenance there is a duty to consider both walking AND cycling".

·         There is a duty to enhance the profile of Active Travel

·         There is world quality Design Guidance which has been written by people who really understand the needs of cyclists and crucially, when creating Active Travel routes, infrastructure and facilities, the Local Authority or Transport Department must demonstrate that these have been followed or provide a full explanation why they have been unable to follow them.

 

Audit Tool

The design guidelines (http://gov.wales/docs/det/consultation/140430-active-travel-design-guida...) are comprised of about 250 pages of technical information but part of them starting at page 232 involves an Audit Tool that pretty much anybody could use to assess a route.  At the meeting we were asked to assess two routes that on first examination look to be reasonably OK. They were routes to a school near to Newport and were off road.  One went through a park, the other alongside a stream.

Problems started when we assessed these routes using the Audit Tool and indeed, despite our initial thoughts, both failed. In fact, an earlier meeting had also failed them as had the Sustrans Area Managers who had considered the OK.

What this demonstrates is that the ambitions of the ATA are not to create a few more dodgy off road paths full of A Frame barriers and overgrowth but to work towards real safe, direct and secure routes to where people want to go to.

Carmarthenshire Cycle Forum will be working to ensure that this becomes a reality.