North East authorities awarded more than £2m to increase walking and cycling across the region
Seven North East councils together with Nexus will receive £2.2m from the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund to build on the significant increase in walking and cycling since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown.
The funding will allow dozens of ‘pop up’ schemes to be installed over the next eight weeks that will:
- make it easier for people to get around on foot or by bike;
- enable cyclists and pedestrians to maintain social distancing when travelling;
- free up capacity on public transport to ensure that people who are making essential journeys and can’t travel by any other form of transport are able to use it;
- improve safety and perceptions of safety by segregating cyclists and road traffic where possible;
- support the economic recovery of towns and cities by improving mobility and making them more accessible to people on foot and bikes;
- make it easier for people to maintain social distancing whilst queuing outside shops without interrupting the flow of pedestrians and cyclists.
Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council and Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, welcomed the funding.
He said: “This is a positive step towards the decarbonisation of the transport network and achieving our Transport Plan’s vision of ‘Moving to a green, healthy, dynamic and thriving North East’.
“Our programme of measures will respond to this increase in walking and cycling during the pandemic lockdown, ensuring that there is sufficient capacity on the network to enable cyclists and pedestrians to pass one another while maintaining social distance; as well as providing capacity to stimulate and accommodate a further wave of increased walking and cycling volumes.
“The ability for people to travel around has a positive impact on the economy. Through reallocating road space to improve capacity for walking and cycling, we will make it easier and safer for people to travel to work, to shops and to bars and restaurants, supporting economic recovery. Our programme will also make it easier for people to maintain social distancing while queuing outside shops without interrupting the flow of pedestrians and cyclists.”
Funding from the allocation will be given to Nexus and councils in Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham to set up their own schemes.