New Act to make it easier to walk and cycle in Wales starts

The Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, which will make it easier for people to walk and cycle in Wales, has been formally commenced by the Transport Minister, Edwina Hart.

The Minister said:

“The Active Travel (Wales) Act will drive forward our vision to promote cycling and walking as a real alternative to the car.

It requires the Welsh Government and local authorities to promote walking and cycling. Local authorities in Wales now need to map and plan suitable routes for walking and cycling, and improve their infrastructure for walking and cycling every year. I will shortly be publishing design and delivery guidance for how local authorities should implement the Act. By making it easier to walk and cycle this Act enable people all over Wales to enjoy the benefits greater physical activity brings.”

To mark the occasion, the Minister will be speaking at the annual Active Travel conference in Cardiff. This year’s conference is focused on children and young people and how they can benefit from walking and cycling.

Mrs Hart added:

“The Welsh Government is already working with local authorities to create more opportunities for pupils to walk and cycle safely to school through the Safe Routes in Communities programme and provided funding for Kerbcraft and cycle training schemes. Local authorities have also been asked to provide details of what work remains to be done to improve safety and access on the roads around our schools.”

Education Minister Huw Lewis will also be speaking at the conference about the importance of creating opportunities for pupils to walk and cycle to and from school.

He said:

“If we want our children to be energised in the classroom, they need to be energised before they reach the school gates. Physical activity is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle and the earlier we get children active in their daily lives, the easier it will be as they progress into adulthood to continue keeping fit.

“We are very keen to see a collaborative approach to getting more children actively commuting to school. For example, where we invest in the 21st Century Schools Programme we expect that travel routes to school are taken into account and are developing a specific standard for this. Together we must create a culture of active travel, where children see this as the norm and continue keeping active as they get older.”

This year’s conference will focus on what the Act will mean for children and young people and the educators, youth workers and other professionals who work with them. It will examine the benefits increased rates of walking and cycling among children and young people bring, together with practical and safe ways in which this can be achieved.

Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, and representatives of Sustrans Cymru will be speaking and taking part in a question and answer session.

Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales said:

“Children and young people often talk to me about how they want walking and cycling routes to schools to be made safer. They’re concerned about traffic and road safety, but also about broader social dangers. I’m very pleased that the Welsh Government has committed to listening to these views to ensure that children across Wales not only have safe walking and cycling routes but also feel safe as they travel to school.”

Jane Lorimer, National Director of Sustrans Cymru, said:

“We know from our work that over half of children would like to cycle to school, but in reality only 2% of trips to school in Wales are by bike. Getting young people cycling and walking more often will improve public health and tackle school run traffic congestion. It’s great to see the Welsh Government taking up this challenge, and showing clear political leadership with two Ministers outlining their commitment by speaking at this important conference.”