Overview: The Active Travel Fund
In May 2020, the government launched a £2billion package to create a new era for cycling and walking in the UK. As part of this, a new Active Travel Fund was released. Shropshire Council has successfully bid for funding from the following two tranches::
- Tranche 1 (Emergency Active Travel Fund)– supported the installation of temporary projects for the Covid-19 pandemic
- Tranche 2 – supports the creation of longer-term projects
Tranche 1: Emergency Active Travel Fund
As part of its Covid-19 response, a £250m Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF) was established by the Department for Transport (DfT) to deliver quick emergency interventions to make cycling and walking safer. The objectives of this fund were to:
- Implement measures at pace to create an environment that is safer for both walking and cycling
- Replace public transport journeys with cycling
- Deliver health, environmental and congestion benefits
In June 2020, £86,000 of funding was made available to Shropshire Council via the EATF to provide temporary new infrastructure to aid social distancing measures, including reallocation of road space for non-motorised users to provide cycle lanes or wider footways. We used this to fund the following two schemes.
New Street (A488) one-way system and contraflow cycle lane
The west-bound traffic lane on New Street, Shrewsbury was closed to all vehicular traffic, and reallocated to create a shared use footway/cycleway. A 20mph speed limit was also put in place in the area. The aim of this scheme was to improve road safety for all users and enhance the quality of life for the local community. This scheme was implemented on 4 June 2020 via an experimental traffic order (ETO), which will expire on 4 December 2021.
Consultation for this scheme closed on 31 March 2021. 261 responses were received, with 72% in support of the scheme. Find out more from the New Street Active Travel Survey summary report.
An interim scheme, which replaces the now expired ETO, was implemented on 8 April 2022 under a new ETO. The interim scheme maintains the one-way traffic restriction on New Street but replaces the contraflow cycle lane with a facility that caters for pedestrian movements only. This is in response to results yielded from traffic surveys undertaken which showed that the contraflow cycle facility was not being used effectively with low numbers of cyclists using the facility in comparison to pedestrians.
Under the new ETO, planter boxes have replaced the traffic cones to provide a more effective safety barrier between pedestrians and motorists. Data from traffic surveys show that the average speed on New Street is 24.5mph despite the 20mph speed limit being in place. The planter boxes are intended to create a traffic calming effect to slow traffic.
A permanent 20mph speed restriction is being consulted on concurrently with the consultation for the new ETO for the New Street interim scheme.
The results of the consultation for the New Street interim scheme will help to inform our decision to implement a permanent one-way restriction and footway widening scheme. This will be analysed alongside work we're currently undertaking to model the effects of the scheme on traffic congestion on the surrounding roads (known as traffic displacement). Traffic displacement was a key concern raised by respondents to the Active Travel Survey (November 2020), the ETO consultation for the one-way traffic restriction and contraflow cycleway scheme (June 2020 – March 2021), and through the public engagement surveys undertaken as part of the proposed liveable neighbourhood trials (October – November 2021). A decision is expected to be made by autumn 2022.
Crowmeole Lane point closure
A trial point closure was introduced on Crowmeole Lane, Shrewsbury on 18 March 2021 for a period of 18 months (until September 2022) using funding granted from the Department for Transport’s (DFT) Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF). In line with the EATF’s objectives to deliver quick emergency interventions to make walking and cycling safer in urban areas, the aim of the trial point closure was to create a safe corridor for walking and cycling to/from residential areas to access employment (including the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (a major employer) as well as schools and key services in the area. Consultation for this scheme was between 18 March – 18 September 2021.
The trial point closure scheme closes a section of Crowmeole Lane from its junction with Rad Valley Road to its junction with Sandiway, in both directions to all vehicular traffic except buses. The physical location of the point closure allows for residents in surrounding streets to access their properties from Crowmeole Lane but prevents through access for vehicles allowing for a lightly trafficked and therefore, safer route for pedestrians and cyclists.
The trial point closure scheme is currently formed of signage only with no physical barriers or other enforcement measures to prevent access by through traffic. The lack of physical barriers or enforcement mechanisms have compromised the effectiveness of this scheme as evidenced by the number of drivers who ignore the point closure and drive through it. Traffic surveys have recorded moderate numbers of pedestrians and cyclists using this route and the results of the public consultation exercise indicate that there is a level of support in the community for introducing a follow-up scheme with enforcement measures in place to prevent drivers from contravening the road closure.
We're proposing to introduce a permanent point closure that would close off the same section of Crowmeole Lane as the current trial point closure. We're seeking to enforce this point closure using camera technology such as automated number plate recognition (ANPR) or closed-circuit television following the introduction of the Civil Enforcement of Road Traffic Contraventions (Approved Devices, Charging Guidelines and General Provisions) (England) Regulations 2022. These new regulations come into force on 31 May 2022 and have been introduced to allow local authorities outside London to have the necessary legislative enforcement powers (under Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004) for moving traffic contraventions and to encourage behavioural shift towards sustainable travel choices by keeping pedestrian and cycle facilities clear of vehicles. It supports the commitment made by the prime minister in launching the government’s broader policy to further promote active travel choices.
To have your say on the above proposal, go to our ‘Get Involved’ section.
Active Travel Fund - tranche 2
In October 2020, the DfT announced a second round of Active Travel Funding (tranche 2), from which Shropshire Council has been awarded £259,500.
Between 1 October and 4 November 2022 a series of public engagement activities were undertaken to ascertain the level of public support for a liveable neighbourhood for both the Copthorne and Porthill areas. Following the feedback received, a decision was made to not progress with the liveable neighbourhood trials. Instead, a revised approach has been developed that takes into account the key constraints, issues and concerns raised by the community through the public engagement exercise. This approach was approved by the Active Travel Programme Board at its meeting on 21 December 2021 and is made up of the following schemes and activities:
- A proposed 20mph speed limit zone for Porthill and Copthorne (further detail to be provided soon)
- Two additional signalised crossings on Copthorne Rd (further detail to be provided soon)
- The development of an overarching school travel planning programme (further detail to be provided soon)
Active Travel Fund Tranche 2 funding will be used alongside other funding sources to implement these schemes and supporting activities, as well as the proposed Crowmeole Lane ANPR enforced point closure and the proposed permanent scheme for New Street (if these schemes are to go ahead)