Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
The Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 places a requirement on the Welsh Ministers to ‘make and publish annual reports on the extent to which walkers and cyclists make active travel journeys in Wales.’
Today I am publishing the first annual report, which also provides an update on progress with the implementation of the Act since its commencement in September 2014. This first annual report provides us with a baseline to measure the uptake of active travel across Wales. The figures for the current levels of active travel in Wales show that we have some way to go before we reach our ambition of making Wales a truly ‘walking and cycling nation’.
Since the making of the Act, we have put in place the foundations for its implementation. Last autumn I published two sets of statutory guidance which support the Act: the Delivery Guidance to help local authorities meet their duties under the Act; and the Design Guidance, which sets out the standards that need to be followed in planning and designing walking and cycling infrastructure.
I continue to emphasise the importance of creating walking and cycling infrastructure that really meets the needs of users and potential users. This can only be done with meaningful engagement, which was reflected in the preparation of the Design Guidance: it was developed with the active involvement of a wide range of technical experts and stakeholders, from local authorities, to walking and cycling charities and groups representing the interests of disabled people. This year’s Active Travel Conference reinforced this message by focussing on how walking and cycling can be made more inclusive and become a viable travel option for the broadest possible range of people in Wales.
The need for sound consultation and engagement was also the reason I moved the deadline for the submission of the Existing Routes Maps from September 2015 to January 2016 - to enable local authorities to consult properly, in particular with children and young people.
Whilst developing the framework for implementation, we have invested in improving our existing infrastructure. In 2015/16, I have allocated over £14 million across my portfolio to improve safe walking and cycling infrastructure. I have prioritised training and allocated £1.5 million this year for pedestrian and cycle training in schools, complementing the new three year ‘Active Journeys’ project which will work with schools to promote active travel.
We now look ahead to the next milestones in the New Year. In January, we will receive the first sets of Existing Routes Maps from local authorities for appraisal and I will publish the Active Travel Action Plan, which will set out our wider approach to supporting Active Travel across Welsh Government Departments.