Councils should face down rows over low-traffic neighbourhoods by reframing the debate in terms of livable streets that children can use safely, the head of England’s walking and cycling watchdog has argued as it unveiled its first raft of projects.
Chris Boardman, the former Olympic cyclist who heads Active Travel England (ATE), has promised his organisation will help local authorities navigate culture wars and media controversies over traffic schemes, along with carrying out its core role of ensuring good design.
The organisation has unveiled 133 walking and cycling projects, covering 46 local authorities in England, all outside London. They are intended to provide almost 200 miles of cycle lanes and pavements within 12 months, and modelling shows they will generate a combined 16m extra walking and cycling trips a year.
Boardman, who formerly worked to boost walking and cycling across Greater Manchester, said that while he understood some people were “scared” about change, councils should not get bogged down in debates over low-traffic neighbourhoods, which use filters to limit car through-traffic on smaller streets.
“We can call them whatever we want, but it’s a neighbourhood,” he said. “We want to give people back what they’ve had taken away. We want people to feel OK letting their kids walk to school. If you ask people if they’d like their kids to be able to walk to school, a huge percentage say yes. We’ve been asking the wrong questions.”
The core job of ATE, announced in 2020 and still recruiting staff, is to help councils with […]