We CAN make room for cycling in 101 English towns

Scarborough: one of the 101 English towns to benefit from a share of £3.6bn. Image: Cycling UK.
It’s always a good time to champion active travel, but for campaigners in 101 English towns, now and the months to come are the perfect moment. Cycling UK campaigns officer, Cherry Allan explains why.

As I mentioned in June, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s (MHCLG) Towns Fund has £3.6bn to share out between 101 English towns, amounting to millions of pounds each.

The fund’s main drive is ‘sustainable economic regeneration’, something that many struggling urban areas dearly hope to see. Helpfully for us, the guidance identifies active travel as one way of achieving this.

Flying starts

To give some projects a flying start, the Ministry has just cracked the pot open with a burst of ‘accelerated’ allocations ranging from £500,000 up to £1m per town, totalling £80m altogether. 

We’ve given the list of these initial projects a once-over, and a few leapt out: an e-cargo and e-bike scheme in Hereford, for example; cycle enhancements in the town centre of Bedford; and walking and cycle ways in Bowes Street, Blyth.

You can see what’s happening, cycling and walking-wise, in other towns on our map below.



Naturally, we'd like to see more towns making their way onto our map. They will be doing that, we trust, because the funding doesn’t stop here – the MHCLG still have the bulk of it to parcel out for projects yet to materialise.

So, if you live in any of the selected towns and the prospect of a friendlier (or less unfriendly) welcome for walking and cycling whets your appetite, let the council know how important this is to you as a resident and, as I summarised in my earlier blog, to your local economy and environment.

How we CAN do this

If you’re worried that you’ll be a lone voice, don’t be.

Whether this is your first campaigning step or the next in a long, long line of them, our new Cycle Advocacy Network (CAN) is there to support you with tools, advice and other resources. Please do consider joining up – it’s a very simple process.

Local advocates with local knowledge (and voting power) are better placed than most to tell their councils why and how to invest in active travel for the sake of the neighbourhood and, indeed, to visualise how well (or not) any proposed cycle facilities are likely to function in real life.

Reading about plans and promises remotely on an electronic list or in a bidding document is a very poor substitute for this, but our CAN people understand their streets, their councils and where and what improvements are really needed.

The Towns Fund is huge, and the bigger CAN grows, the stronger our chances are that active travel will be one of its winners, and that the money will be wisely spent.  

See what CAN can do now.