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Safe travel

Reallocation of road space for active travel

On Saturday 9 May 2020 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 Emergency Active Travel Fund of £250m to enable these changes to be implemented.

The Fund has been split into two Tranches with the first primarily focused on temporary measures and the second on converting these temporary measures to permanent.

What is Devon County Council doing?

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

Rank Built-up area Local Authority Population
1 Exeter Exeter 115,625
2 Barnstaple BUA North Devon 28,911
3 Newton Abbot BUA Teignbridge 25,750
4 Bideford BUA Torridge 18,939
5 Exmouth BUA East Devon 18,694
6 Tiverton BUA Mid Devon 13,568
7 Teignmouth BUA Teignbridge 9,865
8 Tavistock BUA West Devon 8,841
9 Sidmouth BUA East Devon 8,411
10 Totnes BUA South Hams 7,770

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

The measures are therefore to be focussed on regional centres of Exeter, Newton Abbot and Barnstaple/Bideford where there is the greatest economic activity and greatest public transport usage. Due to the need to act quickly many of the interventions are to be developed from the existing programme of urban cycle and public realm enhancements. 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.

  • Tranche 1 (July 2020)

    Tranche 1 of the fund was allocated in June 2020 with Devon County Council receiving 100% of their indicative £338k allocation. This funding is being used to introduce temporary, pop-up walking and cycling measures across the county.

    The funding allocations requested for Tranche 1, based on advice from the DfT to focus on the main urban areas with greatest public transport usage were estimated at:

    • Exeter: £150k
    • Sub-regional Centres (Newton Abbot, Barnstaple/Bideford): £150k
    • Rest of County: £40k

    More information can be found via the following links:

    Implemented measures, along with others across the country, can also be viewed via the Sustrans Space to Move Map which also invites public feedback to be recorded.

  • Tranche 2 (August 2020)

    On 10 July 2020 the DfT released further guidance on Tranche 2 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund, issuing an invitation for bids to be submitted by 7 August 2020. Devon County Council have been provisionally allocated a further £1.3m to implement more permanent active travel schemes, although this remains subject to a successful bid. The objectives of Tranche 2 are as follows:

    • Implement measures to create an environment which is safer for both walking and cycling
    • Replace public transport journeys with cycling
    • Avoid public transport overcrowding
    • Deliver health, environmental and congestion benefits

    To put the County Council in the strongest position for securing 100% of this funding it will need to put forward proposals that have strong strategic, economic, management, financial and commercial cases. More detail on these requirements and the submission can be found via the below links:

For any queries regarding the Emergency Active Travel Fund please email:transportplanning@devon.gov.uk 


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