Chris Boardman leads new government body Active Travel England
Chris Boardman has been appointed acting commissioner of a new government body, Active Travel England, which has been tasked with, among other things, implementing the Gear Change strategy.
The former world and Olympic champion cyclist turned cycling and walking activist said it was possible to create “a legacy that we will be proud to leave for our children and future generations” and that “it is time for a quiet revolution”.
The creation of the government agency, which will be based in York from this summer, was announced in the Gear Change: a bold new take on walking and cycling strategy published by the Ministry of Transport in July 2020.
In launching Active Travel England today, the DfT said it ‘will be responsible for raising the standards of cycling and walking infrastructure and managing the national active travel budget, providing funding for projects that improve both health and air quality”.
The new entity “will also begin to inspect and publish reports on road authorities for their performance in active travel and to identify particularly dangerous failures of their motorways for cyclists and pedestrians.
“As well as approving and inspecting schemes”, it will also help local authorities, training staff and spreading good practice in design, implementation and public engagement. This will act as a statutory consultant on major development applications to ensure that the most important new developments properly address pedestrians and cyclists.
Boardman, who has taken on the role of acting commissioner on a temporary, voluntary basis, will be “closely involved” in the creation of Active Travel England, including the recruitment of its chief executive and management team.
The DfT says it will hold “a full and open competition for the post of permanent commissioner”.
Boardman said: “The positive effects of high levels of cycling and walking are clearly visible in pockets across the country where people have been provided with easy and safe alternatives to driving.
“Perhaps most important of all, however, it creates better places to live while helping both the NHS and our decarbonisation mission.”
“Now is the time to build on these pockets of best practices and allow the entire nation to move easily and safely through their neighborhoods without feeling like they have to rely on cars,” he continued. .
“I am honored to have been asked to lead this project and help achieve the ambitious vision set out in the government’s shift strategy and other local transport policies.
“It will be a legacy we will be proud to leave for our children and future generations,” Boardman added. “It’s time to make it a reality; it’s time for a quiet revolution.
During his racing career, Boardman, now 53, won Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992 and the road and track world championships, as well as the Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey. .
Retired, as well as leading research and development at British Cycling, creating his own successful bike brand which he sold to Halfords in 2014 for £20m and his role as TV pundit, Boardman has become increasingly active in campaigning for safe cycling for everyday cyclists.
His common sense and articulate approach won him a strong following among cycling activists, and when the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling – now the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling and Walking (APPGCW) – recommended in its report Get 2013 Britain Cycling the government nominate a national cycling champion for England, Boardman was seen by many as the obvious candidate if such a role were to be created.
> Cycling minister hints at appointing champion cyclist, Chris Boardman wants ‘meaningful powers’
Ruth Cadbury, Labor MP for Brentford and Isleworth and Co-Chair of the APPGCW, said of today’s news: ‘The launch of Active Travel England, with Chris Boardman as Acting Commissioner, is a fantastic step in the right direction to increase levels of cycling and walking.
“Having a single body responsible for improving infrastructure standards, with statutory powers, will help achieve the government’s ambitious target of half of all urban travel on foot or by bike by 2030.
“We look forward to working with Chris and the entire Active Travel England team so that everyone can benefit from the reduced traffic congestion, better air quality and improved public health that comes with higher levels of cycling and walking,” she added.
Today the government also announced new funding of £5.5million for local authorities, rail operators and businesses to encourage a variety of active travel schemes, including a £300,000 top-up to schemes of E-cargo bikes, £3m to improve cycling infrastructure around stations and £2.2m to explore ‘active travel on prescription’ schemes.
Trudy Harrison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the DfT responsible for active travel, said: “Cycling and walking are not only good for our health and the environment, but can also be great fun and are a great way connect communities.
“This funding aims to give people across the country the opportunity to travel in different forms, as well as support local businesses in the transition to greener transportation.”
She added: “I’m really looking forward to working with our new active travel commissioner to improve standards for everyone.”
Over the past five years, Boardman, whose mother Carol was killed when she was knocked off her bike by a van driver in 2016, has grown Greater Manchester’s network of active travel routes in her role as active city-region travel commissioner and more. its transport commissioner recently.
The DfT says he will step down from this role to concentrate on his task at Active Travel England, although he will retain the post of chairman of Sport England to which he was appointed in June last year.