It has been announced today that the new government executive agency overseeing walking and cycling improvements, Active Travel England (ATE), is to be based here in York.
First announced in early summer 2020, as part of the Gear Change policy, Active Travel England has been likened to an Ofsted for walking and cycling. The new department will be responsible for checking the standards of cycling and walking infrastructure being delivered by local authorities, as well as managing the national active travel budget. ATE will also be responsible for inspecting local authorities on how well they perform at active travel, and publish reports of their performance. They will also be a statutory consultee on major planning applications, making sure that large developments provide for pedestrians and cyclists.
Alongside inspecting and reporting on local authorities, Active Travel England are tasked with helping local authorities deliver walking and cycling schemes successfully, providing training for staff and good practice on design, implementation, and public consultation.
And welcome Chris Boardman MBE!
Heading up the new department of just under 100 staff will be Chris Boardman.
Making his name in the 90’s as Olympic gold medalist, world record holder, and multiple yellow jersey holder in the Tour de France, Chris Boardman is now just as well known as an advocate for everyday cycling away from the track and French countryside.
In 2017 he was made Greater Manchester’s first Cycling and Walking Commissioner, during which time he led the Bee Network proposals – a development of 1,800 miles of protected walking and cycling routes in the region. Alongside the day job his cycle advocacy work has extended through traditional media where he is invited to comment on cycling stories, and notably on Twitter where he regularly extols the virtues of cycling.
Speaking of today’s announcements Chris Boardman said;
“The positive effects of high levels of cycling and walking are clearly visible in pockets around the country where people have been given easy and safe alternatives to driving. Perhaps most important of all, though, it makes for better places to live while helping both the NHS and our mission to decarbonise.”
“The time has come to build on those pockets of best practice and enable the whole nation to travel easily and safely around their neighbourhoods without feeling compelled to rely on cars. I’m honoured to be asked to lead on this and help deliver the ambitious vision laid out in the government’s Gear Change strategy and other local transport policies.
“This will be a legacy we will be proud to leave for our children and for future generations. It’s time to make it a reality; it’s time for a quiet revolution.”
A Great Opportunity For York
Since the first announcement in 2020 that Active Travel England would be formed, York Cycle Campaign, like other campaign groups around the country, have eagerly been awaiting further news of the body able to ensure that walking and cycling infrastructure is delivered well.
We are delighted to hear Active Travel England will be located in York. We’re greatly looking forward to inviting employees to join us for a cycle ride around York and excited about working with them to raise the ambition of York’s active travel network.
Having Chris Boardman leading the department is also hugely welcomed news as we know he has the motivation and drive to pursue the vision for cities that are inviting to walk and cycle in – who knows we may even see him popping along to a few YCC events!