The coronavirus pandemic has driven huge change in people’s travel habits, with many more of us walking and cycling to work, shops and for recreation than before.
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, is determined to grasp this opportunity for change and make sure people continue to ditch the car in favour of cycling or walking when the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Today, the Welsh Government has announced £38 million to make Wales a safer place to cycle, scoot and walk.
Together with the £15.4m announced last month, this is the largest ever investment in local active travel improvements in Wales, which will fund projects to make it safer for children and adults to get to school or work on foot, bike or scooter.
Schemes include £259,500 to build a walkway over the railway bridge near Ysgol Ty Fynnon in Shotton and install of cycle friendly traffic calming features along King George Street. The funding will also improve an existing footpath to provide better access to the Job Centre, swimming pool and library.
In Neath Port Talbot, £205,000 will be used to implement 20mph speed limits outside six schools, as well as improving road markings and laying anti-skid surfacing to make it far safer for children walking and cycling to school.
Deputy Minister Lee Waters said: “The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed our lives. It stopped our daily routines in their tracks and has forced us all to live differently.
“Coronavirus has brought much hardship and tragedy. It has also presented us with a golden opportunity for change – one which I am determined to grasp with both hands.
“More people than ever before are walking and cycling to work, visit friends and pop to the shop. With fewer cars on the road, first-time cyclists have had the confidence to rent, borrow or buy a bike, rather than reaching for the car keys.
“However, as coronavirus restrictions ease and our roads become busier, it’s vital our roads remain walking and cycle-friendly if a long term change to our travel habits is to succeed. That’s exactly what I hope the £38 million I’ve announced today will achieve.
“This £38m is a very significant investment in creating safe travel routes and better connections in our towns and cities, so people still have the confidence to cycle and walk around Wales even when our lives return to normal.”
The Deputy Minister continued to say that real progress on active travel so far has been too slow and has not achieved the change in behaviour Wales needs to see. He added:
“I’m calling on local authority leaders to also seize this golden opportunity and work with their communities to develop schemes for the future that encourage more people to walk and cycle for everyday journeys.
“I want us to work together transform Wales’ travel habits and choose options which protect our environment and benefit our health.”