Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Sustainable Travel City is dead, long live the... er... Urban Challenge Fund

The Sustainable Travel City fund was announced by Paul Clark MP (Under-Secretary of State for Transport) in May 2009. Greater Manchester was one of nine urban areas that submitted a bid for up to £29 million to encourage greener travel choices. The aims of the Sustainable Travel City funding was to help a major city tackle congestion, reduce CO2 emissions and increase levels of physical activity.  The Department for Transport (DfT) hoped that the successful city would provide a model for others to follow.   The DfT wanted to see innovative new strategies to develop a range of services including;
  • Work or school travel planning;
  • cycle training;
  • personalised travel planning;
  • online journey planning;
  • car share schemes / car clubs
  • reviewing parking provision
  • dedicated bus routes / improved bus stops and shelter;
  • cycling / pedestrian routes;
  • 20 mph zones.
Greater Manchester launched its bid in July 2009 but in September was told by DfT that its bid had not reached the final round.   But despite all the work carried out by transport authorities in the nine cities the DfT has recently confirmed to that they have now cancelled the £29 million Sustainable Travel City demonstration project.  As the Walkit blog notes "this will no doubt cause just a tad of frustration in local/regional transport bodies, who put in a lot of effort, at very short notice, to get their bids in last year."

On the 2nd March 2010, Sadiq Khan (Transport Minister) had announced that there will be an Urban Challenge Fund (UCF) which cities can bid for if they can show that their plans will:
  • improve journey choice
  • tackle congestion
  • improve safety
  • lower carbon emissions
  • and promote healthier lifestyles through better air quality and more walking and cycling.
But so far, detailed figures or timescales for the Urban Challenge Fund have yet to surface.  So following the recent publication of the DfT's active travel strategy which proudly claimed to “put walking and cycling at the heart of our transport and health strategies”, one demonstration project has been dropped and details of the replacement scheme have yet to be made available. Meanwhile, nearly another year has passed by.....

Hopefully, Greater Manchester will make an Urban Challenge Fund application but you would have to have a heart of stone not to forgive the weariness and despair that this prospect may cause for local government officers and active travel campaigners.

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