We are going to produce a toolkit that will equip individuals, communities, Housing Associations, Community Councils, schools, business, as well as campaign groups to play an active role in improving and ensuring delivery of high quality routes that connect communities to each other and the places they work and play.
The development of routes that have a real impact on the numbers of people walking and cycling will only happen if community wide buy in occurs and our idea will help realise this!
Areas that don’t lend themselves to active travel can exacerbate the disconnect between neighbours and between generations. Unlit paths and dark corners become no go areas and people only feel ‘safe’ ensconced in their homes or their cars. Those without access to shops and services can feel isolated. They can in effect become almost ‘unliveable communities’.
People will pay a premium to live in walkable communities and those near to good quality cycling facilities; the environment in which we live is crucial to our sense of wellbeing. Creating liveable communities is an aspiration of government as well as the individual.
Walking and cycling routes that are grown by the community work! Our rights of way network grew through use, the lines etched into the earth between places of work, trade, education and leisure. They were desire lines of generations.
Routes designated for walking and cycling no longer follow desire lines. People have to deal with sub-standard, poor quality infrastructure. They have to wait too long at crossings, cross roads in two or three stages, get squeezed into spaces that are too small, dodge traffic… and nearly always because our roads and neighbourhoods have been designed for cars not people.
Moving to prime locations is not an option for most. So we need to do what we can to make all communities into ones where active travel is as attractive and attainable an option as possible and in so doing help create places where people want to live
In Wales, thanks to the Active Travel Act 2013, there is now a duty on local authorities to make sure that walking and cycling routes are mapped and plans are made for their continuous improvement. Westminster is looking at how similar obligations can be established in England.
Auditing, mapping, engaging, designing, improving, changing are aspirations of the Act. However there is no money! Local Authorities may have a duty but unless communities themselves are equipped to inform and coproduce the solutions it is unlikely that the promise of the Act will be fulfilled.