In 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) published Gear Change, a strategy outlining £2billion investment to help make walking and cycling the natural first-choice mode for many journeys. The strategy highlights an ambition for half of all journeys in towns and cities being cycled or walked by 2030.
The University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) has been commissioned by DfT to evaluate the active travel portfolio of funding that is supporting local authorities across England to implement a range of schemes to help deliver on the aims of Gear Change.
The five-year project will be carried out by academics in CRESR and the University’s Sports and Physical Activity Research Centre alongside partners National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and Mosodi. It will help to understand how active travel interventions are being delivered, what impact they are having on encouraging people to cycle and/or walk, whether interventions are value for money and how they are contributing to the Department’s cycling and walking targets.
The government’s plan to increase cycling and walking seeks to:
- Provide better streets for cycling and people
- Put cycling and walking at the heart of decision-making
- Empower and encourage local authorities
- Enable people to walk and cycle, and protecting them when they do
Professor Ed Ferrari, Director of the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University is leading the project.
Prof Ferrari said: “Active travel is a key government policy that aims to improve health and wellbeing, reduce pollution in our towns and cities and help to address climate change.
“There are a number of diverse and innovative initiatives taking place across the country to try to encourage more active travel among communities.
“This project will draw on data and insights from across Local Authorities and help to support best practice going forward and ensure the successful initiatives are replicated across the country.”
The announcement follows the Department for Transport sponsored Cycle City, Active City conference which took place in Sheffield last week.
Madelynne Arden, Professor of Health Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, presented new research into the support needed to encourage people to adopt more active travel behaviours at the conference.
The research, funded by the Yorkshire and Humber Local Government Association, found that small, planned changes from individuals have the potential to make a big difference to communities.