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Does England’s second cycling and walking strategy get people walking and wheeling?

01 August 2022

ICE’s Walking and Cycling Knowledge Network chair assesses how far CWIS2 goes in achieving real change in active travel. 

Does England’s second cycling and walking strategy get people walking and wheeling?
Footway parking poses a big challenge to walking and cycling. Image credit: trattieritratti/Shutterstock

The second cycling and walking investment strategy (CWIS2) was quietly released by the UK government at the beginning of July.

The ICE’s Walking and Cycling Knowledge Network had aspirations for what it should contain, set out in an insights paper published towards the end of 2021.

How CWIS2 measured up to these aspirations is unpacked in this ICE blog.

As chair of the ICE’s Walking and Cycling Knowledge Network, a highway engineer and, most importantly, an active traveller, does CWIS2 achieve what I hoped for?

Active travel needs to be integrated into more government thinking

The introduction of several policy and guidance documents during the past two years has set high standards. This means the building blocks are in place to achieve the quality active travel infrastructure that we need.

In addition, the emerging Active Travel England body will offer support in the delivery of active travel infrastructure through training, appraisal and inspection of emerging schemes.

However, we need to go further to achieve real change. Provision for active travel needs to be integrated further into more government policy to see a culture change.

Civil engineers can deliver the infrastructure that’s needed.

However, modal shift won’t occur unless government policy encourages the development of neighbourhoods that meet people’s daily needs — such as recreation, retail and education — within walking, cycling and wheeling distance.

CWIS2 misses the opportunity to invest beyond cycling and walking infrastructure in achieving that change.

Missed opportunities

A good example of a missed opportunity is within housing policy. All new homes, workplaces and supermarkets will, from 2022, be required by law to have electric vehicle (EV) charging points.

EV charging points are popping up on our residential streets and in public car parks.

We need a similar enthusiasm for good quality cycle parking in residential and public settings. It needs to be included in new builds and retrofitted within our streets.

The work of the Clean Cities Campaign in March highlighted an issue many people are facing.

People won’t invest in cycling equipment, and therefore won’t cycle anywhere, if they can’t securely store it.

All types of cycles need to be catered for if we are to see cycling as a main mode of travel.

Action needed to tackle footway parking

A big challenge to walking and wheeling in many local neighbourhoods is the rapid increase of footway parking by vehicles.

These invaders not only cause damage but also force people into the carriageway.

CWIS2 refers to the 2020 consultation on this topic, but offers no updates or tangible development to prevent it.

The survey undertaken as part of the consultation found that:

“95% of visually impaired people had had a problem with vehicles parked on pavements in the previous year. This figure rose to 98% of wheelchair users. A survey found that 32% of respondents with vision impairments were less willing to go out on their own because of pavement parking. The figure was 48% for wheelchair users”.

A robust policy and, crucially, funding to support the introduction of it, is necessary to return the footways to active travellers and enable their free movement.

Furthermore, there’s minimal mention of other investment in holistic measures to create a better environment for walking, cycling and wheeling by removing vehicle dominance.

In Wales, default 20mph speed limits have been introduced. Similar ambition is needed in England.

The ICE, supported by its members, needs to keep pressuring government policies and departments to be more ambitious and secure the funding to make those ambitions a reality.

In case you missed it

  • ICE 2021 insight paper analysing CWIS1 and exploring what should be covered in CWIS2.
  • ICE explored how CWIS2 stacked up against the asks in our insights paper.

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  • Helen Littler, associate at WSP