Skip to content

Plans to improve cycling and walking infrastructure welcomed

The government's plans also include crucial changes to the Highway Code that aim to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

30th July 2021

This is a golden opportunity to encourage cycling and walking according to our executive director for property.

His words come as the government publish a report marking a year since they mapped out their plan to spend £2 billion on active travel.

According to figures published in the report, cycling has risen by 46% in the past year – compared to 2019-20 – driven by an increase in leisure cycling, less traffic and the re-allocation of road space to protect cyclists.

Cyclists ride on a cycle superhighway in London, alongside cars

The government wants to capitalise on this and is promoting this summer as the ‘summer of cycling and walking’, alongside a commitment to construct hundreds of miles of new high-quality cycle lanes, make improvements to the National Cycle Network and aid the delivery of new schemes to encourage walking.

Plans also include changes to the Highway Code to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians – all of which are commitments our executive director of property, Charles Johnston, is pleased to see.

“Supporting more people to cycle and walk as part of their everyday lives can transform our nation’s health and wellbeing,” he said.

“The report and the commitment of further government funding are an acknowledgement of this.

“Millions of people have turned to walking and cycling for a local, accessible way to stay active during the pandemic.

“With restrictions now removed and many people set to return to their workplaces on foot and bike, active travel offers marks a golden opportunity to help our nation’s activity levels recover.”

In addition to the campaigns and local authority funding, the government is also establishing Active Travel England, which will be staffed by around 100 highways engineers and town planners, all aiming to improve the quality of planning from local authorities.

It will be a statutory body in the planning system and sign off major schemes, as well as auditing them afterwards to evaluate their effectiveness.

The Highway Code

A new version of the Highway Code will be published in the autumn, with updates including:

  • A hierarchy of road users that ensures road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others.
  • Strengthened pedestrian priority on pavements and when crossing or waiting to cross the road.
  • Guidance on safe passing distances and speeds and ensuring that cyclists have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.

A £10m national e-cycle programme, launching this autumn, will also help make cycling accessible to more people.

“We believe the summer of cycling and walking campaign, changes to the Highway Code, the electric bicycles national programme and the establishment of Active Travel England will help many more people to fit physical activity into their everyday lives,” added Charles.

“It will also support the global effort to tackle climate change.

“To support this effort, we will continue to work with communities across the country, Active Travel England and government to make being active the easy choice, accessible and safe.

“Later this year, we will publish our new strategy Uniting the Movement's implementation plan for 2022-25. It will provide more detail about the role we’ll play to promote active environments, working with partners to achieve our vision of more people getting active in a way that works for them.”

In addition to the government’s commitments to increasing active travel levels, our own local delivery pilots are implementing their own schemes to encourage cycling and walking for travel – this includes use of new guidance to support the creation of more 20-minute neighbourhoods that we developed with the Town and Country Planning Association. These are designed to be complete, compact and connected neighbourhoods where people can meet their everyday needs within a short walk or cycle.

Further examples of their work can be seen below.


Essex Pedal Power is a new £7.2m scheme in Jaywick and Clacton, funded by our local delivery pilot funding and the South East Local Enterprise partnership, that will distribute more than 1,500 new bikes to inactive people who want to start cycling.

The two towns are coastal communities that have suffered from long-term deprivation and this project tackles the biggest barrier to cycling for people in the area – the cost.

The bike is initially leant to the participant, but if they use it once a week for a year then they become the owner of the bike.

The scheme is also providing additional support, including cycle training, basic cycle maintenance skills sessions, locks, storage, safety equipment and access to community cycle hubs, groups and led rides.

In addition, Essex Pedal Power will see the construction of a £1.7m, three-mile cycle lane from Jaywick to Clacton and there are also plans to build a BMX pump track in Jaywick.

Greater Manchester

In the past 12 months the Greater Manchester local delivery pilot has embedded and invested in a variety of walking and cycling schemes.

The actions comes after community engagement that saw target audiences indicate they’d be more likely to be active through walking and cycling.

Resources including local maps for walking and cycling, as well as audio trails, were designed with the community, as was delivery of activities such as scavenger walks, nature walks, Cycle4Health sessions and mile stone trails.

The pilot also promoted existing opportunities through social media, supported other organisations with their plans, connected organisations focusing on cycling or walking and have invested in walking and cycling officers in areas around Manchester.

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.