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Active Travel

The Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 was passed by the National Assembly for Wales on 1 October 2013 and received Royal Assent on 4 November 2013. Its purpose is to enable more people to undertake active travel for short journeys instead of using motorised vehicles where it is suitable for them to do so. An active travel route must be within a designated locality in a local authority area.

In Flintshire the following settlements are within the designated localities specified by Welsh Ministers: 

  • Buckley
  • Broughton
  • Connahs Quay
  • Deeside Industrial Park
  • Flint
  • Gorsedd
  • Holywell
  • Hope
  • Leeswood
  • Mold
  • Northop Hall
  • Penyffordd
  • Sandycroft
  • Shotton
  • Walwen

The Duties on Local Authorities

The Act makes provision: 

  • for local authorities to produce maps of existing active travel routes and related facilities in a local authority’s area (the existing routes map) and to submit these maps to the Welsh Ministers for approval by 22nd January 2016;
  • for local authorities to produce maps of the new and improved active travel routes and related facilities needed to create integrated networks for active travel in a local authority’s area (the integrated network map) and to submit these maps to the Welsh Ministers for approval by 24 September 2017;
  • requiring local authorities to have regard to integrated network maps in preparing transport policies and to ensure that there are new and improved active travel routes and related facilities;
  • requiring the Welsh Ministers and local authorities to report on active travel in Wales;
  • requiring the Welsh Ministers and local authorities, in carrying out certain functions under the Highways Act 1980, to take reasonable steps to enhance the provision made for walkers and cyclists and to have regard to the needs of walkers and cyclists in the exercise of certain other functions;
  • requiring the Welsh Ministers and local authorities to exercise their functions under this Act so as to promote active travel journeys and secure new and improved active travel routes and related facilities. 

Definitions

‘Active Travel’ means walking and cycling as an alternative to motorised transport for the purpose of making every day journeys. 

An ‘Active Travel Journey’ is a journey made to work or education or to access health, leisure or other services or facilities.

An ‘Active Travel Route’ can be a highway used by motorised vehicles or it may be another type of highway such as a footpath, cycle track or bridleway. It may also be a route not comprising a highway where the landowner allows the public to have access. However, private roads where the public are not allowed access are not capable of being active travel routes.

‘Active Traveller’ and ‘Walkers and cyclists’ means people who walk, people who use pedal cycles (including electronic bicycles/e-bikes but excluding motorised cycles) and people who use mobility aids (including motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters). 

‘Related Facilities’ for the purpose of ‘Active Travel Journeys’ includes shelters and storage for cycles and toilets and washing facilities, as long as they are available for use by walkers and cyclists.Micro-scooters, roller blades, skateboards and other similar modes of travel are not included in the statutory definition of active travel. However, these modes of travel are popular amongst specific groups. For example, micro-scooters are popular for younger children for travel to school. Their use will not be discouraged or impeded when they provide an attractive form of transport.

Equestrianism is overwhelmingly for leisure purposes rather than as a mode of transport. Forms of equestrian travel (horse riding, carriage driving, pony and trap etc) are not considered forms of active travel. However, in delivering the provisions of the Act, local authorities should be aware that equestrians are vulnerable road users and should not restrict equestrian access to routes that they currently enjoy. Bridleways can be used by equestrians, walkers and cyclists and so may form part of an active travel route, but enhancements to bridleways should not impede equestrian use or require them to use a less safe route instead. In some cases it may be more appropriate for all users if separate provision is made for walkers and cyclists.

The Act requires two maps to be produced, the existing routes map and the integrated network map.

The existing route maps are primarily intended to inform the public of the safe and suitable routes for active travel and must be submitted to Ministers by the 22nd January, 2016.  The integrated network maps should set out the plans of the local authority for the next 15 years and must be submitted by 25 September 2017.  

There is also a requirement to resubmit both the existing route map and the integrated network map by 25 September 2020.The Council will be expected to monitor the effects of the Act and the specific schemes that will be delivered as a consequence of the Act. The Act requires local authorities to report on:

  • The change level of use of active travel routes every time they submit their existing route map for approval; 
  • The costs they have incurred in creating and improving active travel infrastructure; 
  • How they have delivered their functions in a way that promotes active travel. 

The Delivery Guidance is one of two guidance documents issued under the Act: The other guidance document is the Design Guidance, which deals with technical standards for active travel routes and facilities. The Design Guidance will be essential to local authorities' decisions on whether a route is appropriate for active travel, and what steps should be taken to improve their routes.  Local Authorities are required to have regard to the Delivery Guidance when exercising the functions to which the guidance relates. The duties under the Act are placed on the local authority generally, rather than a specific part of the local authority. The guidance is therefore for all parts of the local authority, not just for the local highways authority.  Local Authorities must undertake a 12 week consultation for both the existing routes map and the integrated map.  Activities to develop maps, and to create new or improved active travel routes and facilities, will affect some groups differently than others. To meet the duties under the Equalities Act 2010, local authorities must give consideration to these different effects and whether they can be minimised or removed.  The published maps will need to show any obstacles along routes clearly to ensure that individuals can make an informed choice about the most appropriate route for them.

Timescales

The timetable put in place by the Active Travel Act is as follows:

  • 22 January 2016 Submission of the existing route maps to Welsh Government.
  • 3 November 2017 Submission of the integrated network map and resubmission of the existing route map to Welsh Government.
  • 24 September 2020 Resubmission of the existing route map and the integrated network map to Welsh Government.

For the full ‘Act’ and statutory guidance please follow the links below:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/anaw/2013/7/contents

http://gov.wales/docs/det/policy/141105guidanceen.pdf