West Midlands awarded £3.85 million to get region cycling and walking post-coronavirus lockdown
Plans for pop-up cycle lanes, wider pavements and many other measures to encourage more cycling and walking across the West Midlands have been given overwhelming backing from Government.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and its partner councils a £3.85 million grant to implement these fast-track measures over the next two months following a slump in physical activity for many residents during the coronavirus lockdown measures.
A list of more than 45 projects includes a pop-up cycle lane linking Coventry city centre to the Canal Basin, a Birmingham city centre cycle lane connecting the A38 and A34 blue routes, and road closures to improve pedestrian and cycle safety in Wolverhampton city centre.
The grant from the Emergency Active Travel Fund is £400,000 more than the West Midlands asked for and means that some projects could be accelerated or new schemes added to the list. The extra money is an indication of the strength of the region’s bid.
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and the seven councils are now in discussion over the allocation of the extra funding.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “It is fantastic that the DfT has not just fully endorsed our quick start plans to get more people cycling and walking this summer but offered extra funding. This money will be used to create a range of pop-up cycle lanes and re-allocate road space and widen pavements to make it safer and easier for people to get around on two wheels and two feet.
“We have seen a significant shift towards cycling and walking during the coronavirus outbreak and as we emerge from lockdown we want to provide safe alternatives to car use so that we can maintain both the health and environmental benefits we have clearly seen.”
The investment in active travel – the collective term for cycling and walking – also meets the WMCA’s aims of improving the region’s health and reducing carbon emissions as set out in the region’s #WM2041 plan to tackle climate change.
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “This emergency funding will deliver results for our residents right away. In fact, some schemes have already been implemented to allow people to walk and cycle in greater safety as we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown.
“But this is just one part of a £40 million investment in cycling and walking we are making across the West Midlands, which will deliver long-term improvements and offer people a safe, healthy and fun alternative to the car while helping us reduce traffic congestion and improve the air we breathe.”
This wider investment includes the £23 million Transforming Cities Fund and a further £14 million Emergency Active Travel Fund grants, which are being used to create permanent cycling and walking infrastructure, including safe cycle routes.