Last year, we reported on plans by the Welsh Government to legally oblige Welsh local authorities to provide cycling and walking routes in the legislative cycle of this Welsh Assembly. The Labour-controlled Welsh Government has been true to its word and has now released more detailed plans in a White Paper.
As stated, the proposed Active Travel (Wales) Bill would make it a legal requirement for local authorities to plan and deliver routes that link up schools, hospitals and shopping areas with traffic-free routes and cycle lanes. This legal duty to provide routes would be a first for any government in the world.
White Paper details
The White Paper states that local authorities in Wales would be required to identify and map the network of routes within their areas that are safe and appropriate for walking and cycling; identify and map the enhancements that would be required to create a fully integrated network for walking and cycling and develop a prioritised list of schemes to deliver the network; deliver an enhanced network subject to budget availability and following due process; consider the potential for enhancing walking and cycling provision in the development of new road schemes.
You can download the full White Paper on the Active Travel (Wales) Bill here (PDF).
Throughout the development of the White Paper, many groups have raised the complexity of the legislation surrounding rights of way and cycle tracks as a major barrier to the provision of new routes to the Welsh Government. Therefore as part of the White Paper consultation, the Welsh Government is seeking views on whether some of the definitions of rights of way should be amended in Wales.