Agenda item

Active Travel Fund Schemes

The council consulted on three proposed active travel schemes in February and March this year. A decision needs to be made on whether those schemes should proceed to the next stage of consultation.

Two of the three schemes would be funded from the government’s Active Travel Fund. The government, in recent funding announcements, withheld funds from authorities that did not submit bids or those that were considered weak. There are potential implications on future government funding for active travel schemes if they do not go ahead or if they are not built in accordance with the latest design standards.

This report outlines the results from the consultation, provides options and potential amendments to the proposals to take account of feedback from the consultation, and recommends next steps.


Councillor Sarah Warren introduced the report by reading out the following statement:


‘The Cabinet will be considering and voting on this item with regard to amended drawings UBR 3 and 4, now updated on the council website. These corrected drawings show the ‘buffer’ area at one of the parking bays and bus stops that had been accidentally omitted.

I would like to thank everyone who submitted questions. It hasn’t been possible to answer them all before the meeting. If any are not answered either within the report, or through this evening’s discussion, they should be emailed to .

On 14 Mar 2019, a climate emergency was declared here in the Guildhall. Many councillors that day, typically of extensive life experience, told how they had discussed the environmental crisis with their children and grandchildren, before deciding how to vote. Their youngsters had impressed upon them the enormity of the crisis, which looms large in young lives. And vote they did, some of you here tonight, almost unanimously, to reduce emissions to zero by 2030.

We know 29% of carbon emissions in B&NES come from land transport. Our greatest priority for reducing these is for each of us to drive less.

We also face a public health crisis: of obesity, of mental health, of air pollution affecting our lungs. These all originate in part from low levels of physical activity. The great news is that that feeling of the wind in your hair, cycling in safety, is not only great fun, but at the same time, it can help us tackle all of these problems. Commuting by bike is a great way to build a few minutes of exercise and happiness into your life on a daily basis.

As a Council, the main way we can influence travel behaviour is through the infrastructure on our roads. We know that the biggest impediment to taking up cycling is perceived danger, and we are going to change that in Bath and North East Somerset, starting with the Upper Bristol and Beckford Roads.

Now, you might have noticed, Cabinet, that Bath is not Milton Keynes. Our roads were designed before the advent of cars and even of bikes. There are purist cyclists in this city complaining that our plans are not perfect for cyclists in every way, and at the expense of other road users.

But we know that there are still people in Bath and North East Somerset who don’t cycle… (yet). We have listened to all responses as government asked us, and we hear that people have legitimate concerns. On the advice of our expert staff, and in line with best design practice, we have made changes to accommodate businesses and disabled residents, as well as other road users. In response to feedback, we have planned in improvements to pavements, spaces for loading, and additional residents’ parking.

Because of our narrow, historic streets, we have compromised cycle infrastructure in some areas, but let’s be clear, these cycle routes will still be safer than any current on-road cycle provision in B&NES. And we seek a continuing dialogue with Active Travel England, the new body providing national leadership on cycle infrastructure. We will monitor these schemes’ success, and learn from how they work in practice, to inform similar decisions in future.

There have also been complaints that we will not be installing a bus gate on North Road, as consulted on. Well, Cabinet, whilst we are fully committed to providing safe active travel between Bath’s valley floor, and the educational institutions and centres of employment on the plateau, the clue was in the name. It was a consultation, and we have listened to all our residents, as government asked us. Many told us that the planned bus gate caused them great concern. We do not intend to join the ranks of Crawley, Horsham, Kensington and Chelsea, in removing cycle lanes and wasting taxpayers’ money.

We will work closely with residents and commuters in the coming months to codesign strategic routes and schemes that are the best that we can provide for all, both those who cycle, and those who don’t (yet).

Now Cabinet, when you think of a cyclist, what do you imagine? A middle-aged man in Lycra on an expensive, racing bike, travelling at speed with friends on Sunday morning?

The cycle lanes that we will build are the first of many, and they are for mums in skirts with shopping bags, and children in uniform with satchels. They are for grans on e-bikes on their way to the RUH, and delivery drivers with e-cargo bikes.

Cabinet, this evening’s decision is not about “cyclists” – in quotation marks – or indeed in lycra. We will build excellent infrastructure for all residents and visitors to enjoy. We will build it for our families and for our businesses. We will build it for our young people and for our older residents, for work and for play. This is what those who voted to declare a climate emergency, voted for. This is climate action. I commend this paper to you. Please back these proposals to commit the funds to progress these schemes to the next stage.’


Councillor Sarah Warren moved the recommendations as printed in the report, with an addition of the following recommendation:


7. Delegate to the Cabinet Member for Climate and Sustainable Travel, along with the Director of Place Management to make final decisions on details for resolutions 1 to 6, and to report back to Cabinet should there be any significant departure from the recommendations.


Councillor Manda Rigby seconded the motion by saying that everyone should be able to see the benefit in creating an environment where walking and cycling would be perceived as safe choices when making a journey, and those who really need to use their car could do so with fewer other vehicles on the road.  Councillor Rigby also welcomed the fact that the schemes have been amended after receiving the consultation input from the residents. Councillor Rigby said that credit must be given to Councillors Warren and McCabe, and the officers for working so hard to find a deliverable set of proposals which, whilst not giving any one section of the community 100% of what it initially wanted, has brought people together to understand the benefits of the current proposal. Councillor Rigby added that she would be looking forward to the setting up of a citizens jury, or similar, to examine the issues round travel to the University of Bath as a whole, and that such a working arrangement can show that it was possible to be both ambitious in aims, and considerate in implementation. Councillor Rigby finished her statement by saying that from her personal perspective, it could be possible to be a supporter of active travel whilst still not supporting non-working elements of the schemes originally presented.


Councillor Richard Samuel welcomed the report by saying that in a city such as Bath creating these safe routes was very challenging due to the historic layout of the city. Many roads were narrow and congested, and in some areas car ownership was very high with little road space available due to parking. Road widths were often narrow reflecting historic patterns of land values that reduced the size of these spaces. In setting out the schemes before the Cabinet today there has been an enormous amount of work and discussion to reach the proposals on the table. It has to be acknowledged that not all the original proposals were popular with the residents directly affected, but what was now before the Cabinet offers the best mix of achievability and value for money.


Councillor Alison Born also welcomed the report by saying that she was happy to support the current plans going out to consultation and she would be looking forward to further pedestrian and cycle friendly measures being introduced across the city in the coming months and years. It was imperative for the Council to consider the feedback from the consultation as these modified schemes would support and encourage active travel (both walking and cycling) which would help to improve the health and wellbeing of our citizens by enabling them to move around the city more safely, and also take into account the everyday needs of the residents and businesses that were directly affected by the introduction of the cycle lanes.


Councillor Tom Davies welcomed the report by saying that the Active Travel Schemes would seek to rebalance the way in which we travel around our area and tackle the great challenges of pollution, the climate emergency and improving our health and wellbeing.  Councillor Davies added that this would enable families, neighbours and residents who enjoy cycling to start take to the streets and roads with confidence helped further by the huge growth in e-bikes and scooters.  Councillor Davies thanked everyone who responded to the consultation and he was delighted that the Council was able to invest additional funds in this cycling infrastructure, in addition to anything provided by WECA and central government.


The rest of the Cabinet also welcomed the report, thanked to all those who have provided their feedback in the consultation, and acknowledged the work of the relevant Cabinet Members, Cabinet Assistants and officers on this matter.


RESOLVED (unanimously) that the Cabinet agreed to:


1  Approve proceeding to the Traffic Regulation Order stage of consultation for the amended Upper Bristol Road scheme (as outlined within the report);

2  Approve proceeding to the Traffic Regulation Order stage of consultation for the Beckford Road cycle lane scheme;

3  Agree that, should the Upper Bristol Road and Beckford Road schemes go ahead following the Traffic Regulation Order stage, a review of both schemes should be undertaken once they have been in place for 12 months;

4  Agree that officers explore external funding streams to cover the £140,438 difference between the Active Travel Fund allocation and the cost of the Upper Bristol Road and Beckford Road proposals. If such funding cannot be secured, delegated approval will be sought to use the £150,000 funding already allocated in the 2021/22 Transport Improvement Fund for the development of walking and cycling schemes;

5  Agree that officers should commission a citizens’ jury or other suitable process of deep public engagement, to determine the most appropriate safe, strategic cycle route to improve between the city centre, the University of Bath and the large employment and education sites in the Claverton Down area, which will take place before the end of this financial year;

6  Approve proceeding to the Traffic Regulation Order stage of the Combe Down to University of Bath scheme as part of the wider business case development work being undertaken to improve walking and cycling routes between Combe Down, the city centre and the University of Bath.

7.  Delegate to the Cabinet Member for Climate and Sustainable Travel, along with the Director of Place Management to make final decisions on details for resolutions 1 to 6, and to report back to Cabinet should there be any significant departure from the recommendations.

Supporting documents: