With the election for the West of England metro mayor less than a month away, we're calling for all mayoral candidates to make the region safer, greener and healthier.
Sustrans Director for England South, James Cleeton, has delivered an eight-point plan to all candidates. The points amount to a call for the reduction in our reliance on cars and investment in the future health of our communities through active travel.
“ We simply need to use the space we have in a smarter way. ”
At least 115,000 new homes and up to 80,000 new jobs are planned for the West of England region over the next 20 years. But with air pollution a growing problem, congestion already costing commuters up to £800 per year and local businesses over £40million per year in lost productivity, we see this as an opportunity for the successful candidate to make a real change.
We want more spent on cycling
We know that we are not alone in calling for greater investment in active travel. Our Bike Life 2015 Bristol survey found 80% of people support increasing the safety of cycling and 70% want to see more money spent on cycling.
James Cleeton said:
“We cannot widen roads in our historic cities to cope with more and more traffic. We simply need to use the space we have in a smarter way. This means reducing the number of vehicles on our roads and providing better facilities for people to walk and cycle for everyday journeys.”
Our eight priorities
Our eight-point plan calls on the new mayor to commit to:
- An investment programme to create showcase walking corridors, delivering a high quality and safer pedestrian environment, working towards well-defined, continuous urban walking networks.
- An investment programme to deliver a 'MetroBike' project – a connecting network of high-quality strategic cycling routes.
- A target of 40% of all journeys to be made by foot and bike across the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) urban areas (including Bristol, the North Fringe of South Gloucestershire and Bath) by 2025.
- Appointing an Active Travel Commissioner reporting directly to the Mayor on progress towards the above targets.
- Make 20mph the default speed limit in urban and built-up areas across the WECA area to reduce the frequency and severity of collisions.
- Setting up clean air zones across Bristol, the North Fringe (area between the northern edge of the administrative city of Bristol and the M4 and M5 motorways) and Bath.
- A workplace parking levy and/or a congestion charge across central Bristol, Bath and the North Fringe.
- Ensuring all new developments are connected to active travel and public transport networks with high-quality infrastructure to reduce reliance on single occupancy car journeys.
A chance to make a real impact
“We need to think of walking and cycling infrastructure as large-scale strategic transport projects,” continues Cleeton, “so we’re calling on the candidates to set up projects that deliver real change across the combined authority area and to appoint a Commissioner who will be responsible for progress. To do this, the devolution funding needs to be spent on measures that will make a real impact – the £30million available per year would only build 1 mile of new motorway but could create 11.5 miles of the highest quality cycle super highway.”
The election for the Mayor of the West of England Combined Authority takes place on Thursday 4 May 2017. The local Sustrans team plans to meet with the mayoral candidates before the election to discuss the eight points we have outlined.