Government reveals ‘once in a generation’ £2bn fund for cycling and walking

Transport secretary Grant Shapps. Picture: Pippa Fowles

Transport secretary Grant Shapps. Picture: Pippa Fowles - Credit: PA

The government’s transport secretary has said that he is pledging £2bn to improve cycling and walking provisions nationwide, with the public transport sector preparing for a tough life after Covid-19.

Leading the daily Downing Street briefing, secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps said that even out of lockdown, social distancing measures will mean public transport would only be able to work at 10pc passenger capacity.

And as a result of this, he urged people to “think very carefully” about their journeys and announced a £2bn fund to make it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle.

Mr Shapps said: “Tomorrow the prime minister will set out a road map for the next phase in our strategy to tackle coronavirus and in support of this I am setting out an ambitious programme to help prepare our transport network for the critical role it will play as we emerge from this crisis.

“Importantly, it is true to say that moving behind Covid will be a gradual progress and not a single leap to freedom.

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“Here is a very stark fact, even with public transport network running at full capacity, once you take into account the two-metre social distancing rule there will only be effective capacity for one in ten passengers for many parts of our network. It is going to require many of us to think very carefully about when and how we travel.”

In a bid to mitigate this the secretary of state announced a £2bn investment in cycling and walking provisions across the country, which also includes a £10m investment in electric car charging points and a roll-out of e-scooter trials. He said this fund would put walking and cycling “at the very heart of our transport policy”, warning of fears of cities and towns becoming gridlocked if more and more people turn to their cars.

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He gave pop-up cycle paths, wider pavement and cycle and bus only streets as examples of emergency provisions that local authorities would be encouraged to roll out in the immediate - with a full strategy on this to be published in early June.

He said it would make a “once in a generation” change to the way people travel.

Meanwhile, a further 346 Covid-19 related deaths have been recorded today, taking the national death toll to 31,587. A further 3,896 new cases were also confirmed today, taking the total number to 215,260.

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