Active Travel England’s New $47m Capability Fund Will Create Transformational Knowledge Machine, Says Chris Boardman
Active Travel England will make several ambitious announcements this year to give people more choices in how they travel, said active travel commissioner Chris Boardman.
The first announcement is a $47 million Capability Fund to train experts to deliver on the Department for Transport’s pledge to increase the number of people walking and cycling.
The Capability Fund is part of the U.K. government’s multi-year budget for Active Trade England of $2.42 billion.
“We need to build an army of engineers and local officers who are capable of delivering to a consistently high standard across a whole country,” Boardman told Forbes.com.
“And this fund is part of starting that. So it’s to enable local authorities to make active travel even higher value than it already is by creating in-house capability.”
“What we’re also injecting here is choice,” continued Boardman.
“This is about giving people a genuine choice in how they travel because one of those choices—active travel—is underrepresented. And we need skilled people who can navigate the system. By the Spring, we hope we’ll have a training package for all local authorities to help them develop their capabilities.”
Boardman said this would be a “national machine that produces a pipeline of high-quality schemes across the country.”
These need to be consistent across the country, he stressed.
“So wherever you are, when you see a sign with a bike on it or somebody walking, you know you’re going to have a good experience. This scheme is about creating that capability within all those local authorities who want to do it.”
Boardman added that active travel was now “highly valued” within the Department for Transport.
“Politically, there’s really good support for it now as well,” he stressed.
The Capability Fund, said Boardman, would create a “national machine that can then drive the regional machines.”
“It’s quite exciting,” he said.
“And exhausting. It’s taken a long time to get here. But at last, we’re ready to actually start doing the job at pace.”
Poor health, traffic congestion, climate change, and many other issues could be alleviated with more people moving under their own steam, said Boardman.
“Active travel is a huge part of the solution,” he stated.
“It’s the transport mode that punches above its weight.”
The Capability Fund will support local authorities to train and retain local engineers and planners, creating a skilled active travel workforce able to collaborate effectively with local communities and conduct high-quality engagement and consultation sessions, said a statement from Active Travel England issued on 2 January.