In March, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis and the SCR Active Travel Commissioner Dame Sarah Storey, attended a Downing Street meeting to outline their vision for walking and cycling infrastructure across South Yorkshire and more widely across the country.
Last week, they wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to put walking and cycling at the heart of plans to get the country moving following Covid-19.
In their letter, they stated that life has dramatically changed during the coronavirus pandemic and rather than returning to business as usual, we must create a cleaner and greener environment, and healthier citizens to protect the NHS in the long term.
Today, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps announced that the Government are investing £2 billion in active travel schemes across the country. In response to this, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis, said:
“I’m pleased that the Government have listened to Dame Sarah Storey and I, and the wider active travel community and will be investing in schemes that will enable more people to walk and cycle. For our public health, our economy and our environment going back to the status quo is just not good enough. Cycling and walking are already at the heart of my transport strategy, but this is the moment to realise their true potential.
“In South Yorkshire I have already secured £166million Transforming Cities Funding, half of which has been allocated for active travel schemes. The funding announced today will further enable us to identify those areas across South Yorkshire where safe provision for those on bike can be delivered and make the necessary changes.
“Work has already begun on this and I’m asking our residents to identify areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. These can be marked on the Interactive Map and I will work with Dame Sarah and our local authorities to make changes as quickly as possible.”
Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner for the Sheffield City Region, said: “I’m glad the Government has recognised the vital role that Active Travel plays in supporting the country’s recovery from this coronavirus lockdown. During lockdown people have had the time to dig out their bikes and explore further, on foot as well as on two wheels, whilst out for their daily exercise, so enabling them to use their bikes for their utility journeys is a crucial part of the recovery strategy.
“At the moment, the country is protecting the NHS by staying at home, but an easing of the lockdown measures won’t make this any less important. By choosing to keep on using walking and cycling as part of our daily lives, we can all carry on protecting the NHS by staying fit and healthy and by reducing air pollution through using our cars as little as possible.
“We know, as the lockdown measures are eased and social distancing measures are still required, the capacity on public transport will be reduced, and if all of these people start using their car as the alternative, our towns and cities will be unable to cope and air pollution will return to previous dangerous levels. The announcement of this funding now enables the region to create trial infrastructure to secure safe walking and cycling routes for the time when more people are out on our streets.”
To have your say and identify areas where social distancing is difficult visit: https://cyclewalkscrmap.sheffieldcityregion.org.uk/