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West of England Mayor launches cycling and walking campaign – with £13m investment agreed

A new campaign launched today (17 August) is promoting the benefits of cycling and walking to boost health and improve air quality in the West of England.

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has started The Joy of the Journey campaign to encourage people to ditch their cars and tackle congestion in the region.

The authority has agreed £13m investment in measures to build confidence and make it easier for residents to cycle and walk – and is working with local councils to put schemes in place.

This includes £3m for short-term measures such as widened pavements and temporary cycle lanes to help people to maintain social distancing. A further £10m has been agreed for longer term solutions to encourage active travel.

The new campaign comes as the number of people cycling and walking reached record levels during lockdown. 

Statistics from the Department of Transport for the West of England have shown 11 per cent of people are cycling more during this time and 33 per cent walking more.

Some 62 per cent of people are also willing to do more cycling and walking to reduce their contribution to climate change. All change travel tracker (DfT) 

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “During lockdown many people have taken advantage of quieter roads to walk or cycle more regularly.

” As more people begin to return to school, college and work we have a real opportunity to capture the positive changes we have seen to improve the physical and mental health of residents, improve air quality and ease congestion across the West of England.

“That’s why I’m encouraging more people to find joy in the journey by swapping a short car journey for walking or cycling whether commuting to work, taking the kids to school or popping to the shops. Not only will walking or cycling boost your mood but it will also help us on the road to a greener future for the region.”  

The campaign has been planned with local councils as well as many partner organisations across the region. 

Head of Partnerships at Sustrans, Jon Usher, said: “Our research shows that even before the Covid pandemic, a majority of residents in the West of England supported measures to improve walking and cycling on high streets and the restriction of traffic outside schools and on residential streets.

“As schools and workplaces reopen in September we need to take this opportunity to make active travel the obvious choice for all ages and abilities.

“It’s great to see the measures that the West of England Combined Authority and councils in the region have already taken and we fully support the vision for the future.” 

Business West’s latest business survey shows COVID-19 has accelerated many business’ plans to encourage employees to walk and cycle more.

WECA has recently submitted its second bid to government for active travel and has recently adopted the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure plan. 

This proposes investment in cycling and walking routes of £411 million over the next 16 years – focusing on 30 local high streets as well as improvements along 55 continuous cycle routes. 

For more information about the campaign view the ‘joyinthejourney’ page on the TravelWest website.