Welsh Assembly to enforce provision of routes for cyclists and pedestrians

A White Paper released today sets out plans for an Active Travel strategy that chief petitioner Sustrans calls a “world first”.

New plans to legally oblige Welsh local authorities to provide cycling and walking routes have been described as a “world first” by Sustrans and a “landmark initiative” by a group of health experts.

The proposed Active Travel (Wales) Bill – outlined in a White Paper released today – will make it it a legal requirement for local authorities to plan and deliver routes that link up hospitals, schools and shopping areas with traffic-free routes and cycle lanes.

Lee Waters, national director of Sustrans Cymru, said:

“This is a ground-breaking move by the Welsh government. With the price of petrol going up, and waistlines going out, this new law will make it easier for people to get around actively.”

Sustrans Cymru has been instrumental in persuading the Welsh Government to introduce the Bill.

“Five years ago we submitted a petition to the Assembly calling for an obligation on the Welsh Government to develop and maintain a network of paths for pedestrians and cyclists, mirroring a similar duty to provide roads,” said Waters.

“The call was widely supported by including encouragement from BT, Royal Mail, British Medical Association Cymru, National Union of Teachers Cymru and Age Concern Cymru, the Association of Chief Constables and the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

“The resulting Legislative Competence Order request narrowly missed out on becoming law because of delays in Whitehall. However, when the referendum last year bestowed new law-making powers on the Assembly, there was a new opportunity to push through this legislative duty. We were delighted that it formed part of the Government’s Legislative Programme announced in July last year.”

The White Paper released today sets out how the Welsh Assembly will implement the plans and this has been welcomed by Welsh health experts. In an open letter, leading figures in public health describe the plan as a “landmark initiative which could transform the health of our nation.”

The open letter was signed by Dr. Richard Lewis, Welsh Secretary, BMA Cymru Wales; Dr Jane Layzell, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Public Health Wales; John Wyn Owen CB, of the National Heart Forum; Dafydd Thomas of Lles Cymru Wellbeing Wales; and Dr Simon Williams, Head of Sport, Health and Exercise Science at the University of Glamorgan.

The letter said:

“Providing people with the opportunity to walk or cycle instead of using the car for short journeys is as important for our nation’s health as it is for our transport system. At the moment one out of every five of the journeys made by car are less than two miles. These are journeys our parents and grandparents would have made on foot or by bicycle. Today’s modern lifestyles, busy road conditions, and the layout of our towns and cities have seen the levels of ‘active travel’ falling year on year as car use has become dominant.

“Physical inactivity and sedentary living are among the leading causes of chronic disease, ill-health and death in Wales. Obesity amongst children and adults inWales has increased to an extraordinarily high level and, as a consequence, we are beginning to experience an epidemic of type 2 diabetes and other conditions related to this weight gain and sedentary living. These conditions have an enormous personal and financial cost but they are largely preventable if people change their behaviour and take every opportunity they can to be physically active.

“As health experts we strongly support the Welsh Government’s ambition to help more people become active as part of their everyday routine. As well as helping save lives, this would also save the nation money – figures from the World Health Organisation show that every £1 invested in making walking and cycling easier can bring benefits of £9 in reduced congestion and costs to the NHS.”

Scottish schools win Big Pedal by logging most bike journeys

The Big Pedal, a 3 week event staged by Sustrans, is a bike-to-school event. It’s funded by Bike Hub. The 2012 Big Pedal has just finished and was bigger than the two previous annual stagings of the event. Schools compete to log bike journeys to school; journeys that may otherwise have been undertaken in cars.

Over the course of the three week competition – 5-26th March – a total of 890,304 journeys were clocked on the Big Pedal counter. The total for Big Pedal 2011 was 606,919 journeys.

The winning small primary school was Leswalt School of Stranraer; the winning large primary school was Oakhurst Community Primary School of Swindon; the winning secondary school was Aboyne Academy of Aberdeenshire).

959 schools took part in the event: 898 primaries and 61 secondaries. The total combined roll of all these schools is 311,776 pupils, all of whom would have been exposed to the bike-to-school message.

890,304 total journeys were logged, of which 760,050 were pupils arriving at school on either bikes or scooters.

In participating schools, an average of 21 percent of pupils cycled in during the three weeks of the events. This rose to 25 percent on the final day of the competition.

Sustrans said the bike-to-school journeys took the place of 1,520,100 car journeys, saving 59,021 gallons of fuel, a saving of £368,484.

If cycling levels during the Big Pedal were maintained for the whole of the year there would be petrol cost saving of £2,947,878.

Sustrans said the event had generated 80 pieces of media coverage reaching a circulation of 8 million people with a PR value of £63,247.

The Big Pedal: It’s off!

The Big Pedal cycle to school event has kicked off today. Run by Sustrans, and funded by the Bike Hub levy, the Big Pedal involves more than 250,000 school children across the UK, who will be logging the mileage of their sustainable journeys to school as part of the UK’s biggest school cycling event.

The Big Pedal will see more than 1 million journeys being logged.

Pupils, teachers and parents cycle or scoot to school to complete each of the 15 Big Pedal stages, which is a bit like the daily stages of cycling’s big annual event, the Tour de France.

The more people that cycle or scoot to school, the faster the school completes each stage.

The eventual Big Pedal winner is the school that completes the whole race in the quickest overall time.

The Big Pedal has a Twitter feed and a website, and you can watch their video on YouTube The Big Pedal 2012

The Big Pedal project aims for 1 million bike journeys to school

Funded by Bike Hub & delivered by Sustrans, The Big Pedal is a three-week project to get kids on bikes, and excited about riding to school.

Kids, parents and teachers across the UK will be getting on their bikes for the journey to school this March as part of Sustrans’ Big Pedal. There are prizes up for grabs for the schools that involve most people.

The Big Pedal is the UK’s biggest school cycling competition to get kids active and raise money for the charity Sustrans.

Nearly half of all children want to be able to get to school by bike but only four per cent do, said a statement from Sustrans.

Carl Pittam, Sustrans Director of English Regions, said:

“Last year’s Big Pedal saw children from more than 800 schools across the UK making nearly a million journeys by bike.

“This year’s race will see even more families discovering just how easy it is to do the school run on two wheels. Children that cycle to school regularly are more active and more alert and better learners.”

The race is funded by Bike Hub, the UK cycle levy scheme. Phillip Darnton, executive director of the Bicycle Association, said:

“The future of cycling depends on every generation of kids learning and wanting to cycle.

“The cycle industry through its Bike Hub levy is delighted to fund this event for another year. 2012 is a very special year; the Big Pedal marks the start of the Summer of Cycling – a new campaign bringing together everyone who cycles and encouraging them to introduce one new-comer to cycling during the year.

“That’s why the Big Pedal is aiming for 1000 schools to sign up and one million journeys to be made.”

The Big Pedal will be the roll-out event for the Summer of Cycling, an umbrella project backed by all the major cycling organisations and created by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.

Bikeability schemes create representative body

The Association of Bikeability Schemes has been welcomed by Department for Transport, funder of the Bikeability programme.

The Association of Bikeability Schemes is a new body, being set up to represent the cycle training industry. There are now over 350 Bikeability schemes registered and more than 6,000 people have trained as instructors. Between them, they are delivering Bikeability training to more than a quarter of a million children each year.

The Association of Bikeability Schemes (TABS) will act as an industry body to give a greater collective voice to Bikeability Schemes.

TABS has been set up by a sub-group of the Instructor Training Organisations as a Community Interest Company and will soon invite applications for membership. All active Bikeability Schemes that hold a current up-to-date registration will be eligible to join. The Department for Transport has been supportive of the initiative.

There will be a launch conference in Birmingham on Thursday 21st June. This will include a chance to elect a board for the Association.