In April there were campaigning bike rides in London and Edinburgh in an attempt to call on the English and Scottish Parliaments to take action on cycle safety. Wales, however, seems likely to become the first Country in the world to make it compulsory for local authorities to provide safe and integrated routes for walking and cycling.
In May the Welsh Assembly took their first active step towards this in The Active Travel (Wales) Bill.
The White Paper sets out a number of plans such as making Local Authorities in Wales identify and map the network of routes within their areas that are safe and appropriate for walking and cycling and identify the changes that would be required to create a fully integrated network for walking and cycling.
The Bill will not become an actual law in Wales until the end of 2013 however an £11 million annual fund already exists in Wales to help with the planned changes.
The Ramblers charity who represent walkers have said that they will probably oppose most attempts to convert footpaths so that cyclists can use them.
I understand that the charity are trying to look after what they think are the best interests of walkers but I couldn’t disagree more with their opposition to this Bill. They have projects aimed at making people with low levels of physical activity start exercising and surely this Bill goes hand in hand with what they are aiming for? It shouldn’t matter whether people get fit on foot or on a bike because the outcome will be the same. I would imagine there are some areas where it would be unsafe to expect cyclists and walkers to share facilities and campaigning groups can help to inform the decision makers about these issues. But I wholeheartedly support any extension to the current facilities in Wales for cyclists and for walkers.
There are many benefits to this proposed legislation. Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant thinks that the policy will improve public health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help address poverty and reduce congestion and I can only agree and hope that the English and Scottish Parliaments follow the lead of the brilliant steps being taken in Wales.
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Office Manager and Personal Injury Solicitor
Published 7th June 2012