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Safe travel

Reallocation of Roadspace for Active Travel


On Saturday 9th May the government published new statutory guidance for highway authorities regarding the urgent need to reallocate road space towards pedestrians, cyclists and ‘active travel’.

The government recognise this moment as a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities. According to the National Travel Survey, in 2017-18 over 40% of urban journeys were under 2 miles – perfectly suited to walking and cycling.

Active travel is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use. Towns and cities based around active travel will have happier and healthier citizens as well as lasting local economic benefits.

The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel.

In addition, the government has announced a national fund of £250m to enable these changes to be implemented. We are still awaiting details of the scope, funding for Devon and delivery arrangements.

The following Framework and Guidance document has been produced to provide communities with an overview of the legal process and associated timescales involved with the delivery of projects.

In preparation, Devon County Council (DCC) has already been considering changes to parts of the road network to encourage pedestrians and cyclists in some key locations as the county begins to emerge from the lockdown and during the restart of the economy.

To prioritise the areas of greatest demand a high-level analysis of journeys to work has been undertaken. A list of the top 10 settlements with the highest workday populations has been produced and is shown in the table below.

Top 10 Workday Populations

RankBuilt-up AreaLocal AuthorityPopulation
2Barnstaple BUANorth Devon28,911
3Newton Abbot BUATeignbridge25,750
4Bideford BUATorridge18.939
5Exmouth BUAEast Devon18,694
6Tiverton BUAMid Devon13,568
7Teignmouth BUATeignbridge9,865
8Tavistock BUAWest Devon8,841
9Sidmouth BUAEast Devon8,411
10Totnes BUASouth Hams7,770

Table: Devon settlements with highest workday populations (Census 2011).

Exeter has a number of significant employment locations. Reflecting this a further breakdown of employment locations and job numbers within Exeter is provided in the image below. The number of trips from within Exeter is also highlighted, indicating that approximately half of employees come from within the city.

Breakdown of trips to key Exeter employment locations and the number of these trips that originate within Exeter.
Exeter employment locations and workday trips

Reflecting on the areas of greatest employment, the initial focus of road layout changes aim to provide routes to create a basic network in Exeter and core corridor to the main employment sites in other major towns. The will draw on local knowledge of potential opportunities.

It is recognised that although public transport usage has fallen during the pandemic, it will still be essential for many. Therefore, the early focus will be to ensure that any pop-up routes do not significantly impact key bus corridors.

For any queries regarding the Emergency Active Travel Fund please