Oxfordshire makes ambitious new bid for active travel funding

Cyclists, pedestrians and residents in Oxfordshire could benefit from a new government grant of up to £21 million to invest in infrastructure and support local economic recovery over the coming years.

The county council has just submitted a bold funding bid for a third round of the government's Active Travel Grant to help the county’s transport infrastructure recover from the pandemic and offer real quality of life benefits for active, healthy communities.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Cabinet Member for Highways Management at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Our council has deliberately put forward an incredibly bold bid for active travel schemes for the county that aim to transform lives and our local environment.”

“The scale of the bid means these schemes should benefit the county for the long term; they will allow further upgrades to our county cycle infrastructure and allow us to produce desperately needed holistic plans that will make safe cycling and walking an option for many more residents." 

"We know that government recognises the need to shift our dependence away from single occupancy motor vehicles and I sincerely hope that they are willing to match our ambition so that we can help them realise that change on the ground here in Oxfordshire.”

The main goals are:

  • To provide services that enhance the quality of life and take action to reduce the impact of climate change and protect the local environment.
  • To tackle inequality, help people live safe and healthy lives and enable everyone to play an active part in their community.
  • To deliver schemes already set out in the area-based Local Cycle and Walking Infrastructure Plans.

Three main parts to the bid will be based on developing cycling and walking schemes and an officer-led study for a longer-term Dutch-style cycle-friendly zones for the county. Shortlisted local authorities who submit an expression of interest for the Dutch-style cycle-friendly zones study will receive up £100,000 in additional funding.

The council will be expected to develop plans for cycling and walking schemes a year, four years and ten years ahead. It will also include a plan for a GP prescribing pilot for individual exercise using the new, active travel areas as part of a health plan for residents.

To underline the council’s ambitions and reflect the full scale of investment needed to make a difference to communities, this bid has been put forward for significantly more than the previous allocations in the first two rounds.

This also underlines the scale of the ambition of the county. The bid includes an emerging pipeline of over 169 countywide active travel infrastructure projects worth £500 million that the county council has identified as priorities over the coming years. Some of these are aimed specifically at this bid with others being funded by different means. The list underlines the county’s ambitions and commitment to an active travel transformation in how we make journeys.

This bid is ambitious around key strategic routes to Oxford. These include routes from Eynsham to two area of Botley and Kidlington to Oxford. The funding will set the foundations for future delivery along with delivering investment across parts of the county in a series of other infrastructure schemes including in Berinsfield, Witney, Bicester, Abingdon and Banbury.

The county council welcomes the opportunity to work with Oxfordshire’s active travel interest groups in further developing the future pipeline of active travel schemes and those successful schemes leading up to public engagement and consultation on schemes that could be funded by the bid submitted on 9 August. The government will require local authorities to spend the funding by March 2023.

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