North Somerset Council has opened a public consultation on its Draft Active Travel Strategy, a 10-year plan that aims to harness and further increase the huge rise in walking and cycling seen during 2020.
When finalised, the strategy will help increase opportunities for safe, attractive and enjoyable active travel, including walking and cycling.
It will also support the council’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions in North Somerset as part of a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.
The strategy goes further than any previous local walking and cycling strategy by placing walking and cycling infrastructure at the centre of transport planning. It sets out to give priority to these types of travel over the private car ‘wherever possible’ and includes reallocating and reclaiming important village and town centre road space to be enjoyed by people and communities instead of being dominated by motor vehicles.
By delivering high quality walking and cycling networks and increasing publicity and awareness of these, the strategy aims to increase walking and cycling trips by 300 per cent by 2030.
The strategy will help secure vital funding from central government and other external agencies, to help improve walking and cycling networks and make people feel safer on the North Somerset transport network. This is especially important as we try to stay fit, healthy and safe during this second national lockdown and further potential restrictions beyond this.
Improving the amount and type of active travel facilities available to people, such as safe and frequent crossing points, cycle lanes and more public space in our town and village centres, will help achieve a number of important aims. These include reducing carbon and helping to tackle the climate emergency, improving public health to be more resilient and boosting the local economy.
In the short to medium term, these sorts of improvements will help people socially distance at the busiest town and village centres and popular places to visit across North Somerset.
Cllr James Tonkin, executive member with responsibility for Transport, said: "We are in a climate emergency and the way we move around our area has to change to protect our future. Since the Covid-19 crisis, we have seen a huge growth in walking and cycling, showing the suppressed demand for active travel.
"The crisis has also shown us the importance of underlying good health, both physically and mentally. Active travel is a very easy way for people to achieve health benefits.
The way we build our infrastructure also has to shift. This strategy marks a fundamental refocus in our priorities that will see us putting walking and cycling at the centre of our transport planning for the next 10 years.
We have outlined our proposals and ambitions, now we need the public to give us their feedback, so I urge everyone to get involved.”
This consultation seeks to gain valuable feedback from the residents, businesses, visitors and other stakeholders in North Somerset on this Draft Active Travel Strategy. This will inform changes to the strategy before it is finalised in early 2021.
To have your say visit https://n-somerset.inconsult.uk/consult.ti/ats/consultationHome
The consultation closes on Thursday 17 December 2020. All consultation responses will be viewed and will help shape the final strategy which is due to be adopted in Spring 2021.