Lack of funding and leadership leaves Active Travel Act falling short of ambition, says National Assembly Committee
A lack of dedicated funding and a lack of leadership from the Welsh Government means the Active Travel Act is falling short of its full potential, according to a National Assembly committee.
The Act, passed in 2013, is designed to encourage more people to walk or cycle by requiring local authorities to provide routes and take non-motorised transport into account when planning new roads and transport links.
In reviewing the Act the Enterprise and Business Committee found that little extra funding had been set aside for local authorites, and that there had been a lack of leadership from the Welsh Government in delivering the Act's objectives.
This could, the Committee concluded, prevent ambitious projects being proposed by local authorities.
The Committee also wants to see more public awareness raising of the Act was as it felt that greater promotion of the active travel agenda was key to bringing about the necessary culture change to get people out of their cars and to consider healthier forms of transport.
"The Committee applauds the ambition of the Act which aims to make walking and cycling to school, work and for other activities routine," said William Graham AM, Chair of the Enterprise and Business Committee.
"We know that the Act is still in its infancy, however, we want to ensure that sound building blocks are in place now in order to achieve the shift towards a healthier and greener way of travelling.
"Many of the people and organisations we spoke to told us very clearly that there have been early successes, but there is also considerable frustration that the full potential of the Act is not being delivered.
"The Committee is concerned about whether sufficient funding and resources have been made available to support the Act.
"We felt that greater promotion of the active travel agenda was key to bringing about culture change. We are calling for a nationwide promotion campaign that shows the benefits of active travel, particularly targetting those who find it hardest to get involved.
"The Active Travel Act will only succeed if the Welsh Government has the confidence to see through what it has started with its own legislation. The Committee is concerned that, on the evidence of the first year and a half, the Government's commitment has started to waver before it has properly begun."
The Committee makes eight recommendations in its report, including:
The Welsh Government should have a specific budget line dedicated to supporting active travel. The budget for active travel should be used for both supporting active travel infrastructure projects and promoting active travel.
The Welsh Government should initiate a national population level campaign to promote the benefits of active travel; and
The Active Travel Plan should contain a statement of ambition which sets targets for an increase in the number of walking and cycling journeys in Wales. It should also set out how each Welsh Government Department will promote and support active travel.
More information about the Enterprise and Business Committee.