A legal duty on councils in Wales
In 2013, the Welsh Assembly passed world-first legislation in the Active Travel (Wales) Act. The Act places a legal duty on councils across Wales to map walking and cycling routes in their communities and then start filling in the gaps, by producing a plan for a joined-up network.
The current stage of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 is for councils to develop an Integrated Network Map (INM). These maps should take into consideration improvements to existing routes and new routes that join up to create a network that helps people to get from A to B for their everyday journeys.
What Sustrans thinks
We believe that facilitating and encouraging walking and cycling as an alternative means to motorised transport for the purpose of making everyday journeys is key to building a healthier, more attractive and prosperous Wales.
The INM approach under the Active Travel Act offers the opportunity to deliver safe, attractive places to live, where walking and cycling are the obvious choices for short journeys and that routes for cycling are clear, coherent and connected.
The INM process represents an opportunity to change how streets, roads and urban spaces are designed and advocates an approach that places pedestrians and cyclists on an equal, if not preferential footing, to motorised modes. Delivery of the INM is an opportunity to identify where and how this can happen.
Sustrans strongly endorses optimising the approach to the INM development through defining key network aims at the outset.
Recommendations for local authorities
Sustrans recognises that the delivery of schemes needs to fit with each local authority’s wider strategic priorities whilst considering appropriate resources for delivery within identified timescales.
We are also aware that this is the first iteration of the authority’s INM and that further routes and priorities can be established with later revisions and developments as part of the ongoing Active Travel Act (ATA) process.
Although each individual local authority’s INM will vary with specific local considerations and priorities, there are elements which should form part of any effective INM approach such as:
- Setting overarching targets and KPIs to achieve them, linked to the council’s key strategies and plans. E.g. An ambition to double the number of cycling trips from defined baseline and for 60% of journeys to be made by sustainable transport by 2026.
- Developing a collaborative approach between local authority departments and with external agencies to mainstream delivery and promotion of infrastructure.
- This approach to active travel is essential to maximising the benefits from development and implementation of the INM.
- Defining the ambitions for INM development in terms of achieving high standards under ATA design guidance as well as innovative approaches to solving problems and influencing future development.
In terms of infrastructure, key elements should include:
- Routes reviewed and developed in line with the underlying principles - Coherent, Direct, Safe, Attractive and Comfortable.
- Continuous routes between key points –continuous linkages between trip generation and destination points for identified routes. Broken routes defined by infrastructure type or pass/fail criteria are unlikely to be effective for a public-facing INM.
- Existing Routes – all upgraded to ATA Design Standards, including routes that ‘Passed’ pedestrian & cycle audit.
- Time delays at signalised crossings – need to minimise as a general approach. This is often cited as a key issue for pedestrians.
- Comfort – dropped (flush) kerbs, smooth surfaces. Generally good practice and in line with ATA Design guidance to ensure consistency.
- Desire lines – need to be catered for and linked to any local demand and evidence from consultation data. Redevelopment of signalised junctions should include all red phases to allow diagonal crossings for pedestrians, and ideally cyclists if possible.
- Access controls – reduce or remove wherever possible. Need to link provision to evidenced or known activity rather than general approach. Needs to be site specific solution and compliant with latest guidance.
- Pavement parking and other route obstructions – Obstruction of footways and existing Active Travel infrastructure is a significant problem and a strong deterrent to usage. Civil enforcement should consider opportunities to address persistent problems and councils should review procedures where other services may be impacting on infrastructure. Eg waste collection and obstruction by domestic bids.
- Signing – needs to be consistent and relevant to level of infrastructure. Eg Wayfinding strategy for local urban areas aimed at Pedestrians, Strategic direction signing for National Cycle Network and primary routes within urban areas. Statutory instructional signing should confirm to current ATA design standards and updated TSRGD guidance, avoiding negative signing such as ‘cyclists dismount’ and ‘route end’.