United Kingdom

Greener travel alternatives given funding boost as people encouraged to leave cars at home

3 June 2020

Commuters are being encouraged to walk or cycle to work following an emergency new initiative announced by the government last month, which will see councils in England reallocate road space for pedestrians and cyclists.

Man Cycling to Work

The £2billion scheme launched in May by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps aims to reduce pressure on public transport and will include trials of rental e-scooters, emergency pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions and cycle and bus-only corridors.

The scheme forms part of the government’s £250 million emergency active travel fund – the first stage of their £2billion investment.

In February, the government announced £5billion in new funding for cycling and buses in an attempt to overhaul bus and cycle links for every region outside London, but the Covid-19 pandemic has made it necessary to fast-track these plans.

“During this crisis, millions of people have discovered cycling – whether for exercise or as a means of safe, socially-distanced transport,” said Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps. “When the country does get back to work, we need those people to stay on their bikes and be joined by many more. Otherwise, with public transport’s capacity severely restricted at this time, our trains and buses could be overcrowded and our roads gridlocked – holding up emergency services, critical workers and vital supplies.”

Commenting on the latest government initiative, Mark Witte, principal at Aon, highlighted the associated benefits cycling and walking can have on physical and emotional wellbeing.

“We know that inactivity and obesity are big drivers of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, so this latest push to encourage more people to increase their fitness levels can only be a good thing, not least because of the well-known benefits to our emotional wellbeing from getting out and about more,” he said.

Local authorities will receive government support to introduce cycle schemes at local level, including Greater Manchester and Transport London, where protected cycle tracks and networks are currently being developed.

Councils are being asked to ‘significantly’ reallocate road space for cyclists and pedestrians which could see some areas becoming bike and bus-only zones and certain roads closed off to motorists all together.

Vouchers will also be issued for cycle repairs along with increased provision of bike fixing facilities.

Cycle-to-work schemes in particular, are expected to see a significant increase in take-up in response to the new initiatives.

Jeff Fox, principal at Aon said: “The long-running and very popular cycle-to-work scheme has been given a massive boost by these announcements. We are going to see a shift toward sustainable benefit policies, it will be important for employers to look at this very soon.” 

Whether you need help with an existing cycle-to-work scheme, or need support in implementing a new one – our experts can help. Get in touch today to see how we can help you support your employees’ physical health.


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