Gwent AM spearheads world's first cycling bill
2:37pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in News
A GWENT AM has spearheaded what has been called the world’s first law on walking and cycling.
The Active Travel Bill, passed by the Assembly this week and backed by culture minister John Griffiths, will require councils to improve their routes for pedestrians and cyclists.
Local authorities will have to prepare maps identifying current and potential future routes for their use, and new road schemes will have to consider the needs of pedestrians and cyclists at their design stage.
There have been concerns that councils might not be able to properly fund the plans but Mr Griffiths said £12 million would be available annually to implement the bill.
Newport East AM Mr Griffiths said he was “very pleased” with the bill’s passage in the Assembly which he said will have a “really important benefits for Wales”.
“If we get better cycling routes in place and promote cycling and walking more effectively then we are going to have a healthier and fitter Wales," he said.
He said that in five years time Wales will have “better quality cycling and walking routes” that would be “safer, more comfortable and easier to use”.
He said some costs will be funded in producing the maps and that there was money available for infrastructure – with £12 million available annually for the implementation of the bill.
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Lib Dem spokeswoman for transport, said the bill offers “great potential to steer us towards a healthier and more environmentally friendly Wales.”
She said she was pleased Mr Griffiths had agreed to take forward her calls for further measures on promoting walking and cycling.
Plaid transport spokesman Dafydd Elis-Thomas said: ”Passing the bill is important but it now needs to be fully integrated into the National Transport Plan so that there is an ongoing commitment to invest in the routes and infrastructure.”
Cycling charity Sustrans Cymru national Director Jane Lorime said: “The passing of this legislation shows that Wales’s leadership is serious about making walking and cycling the normal choice for more of our everyday shorter journeys.
“Not only can we cut congestion in our towns and cities, but by getting more people walking and cycling we can save the NHS in Wales tens of millions in tackling preventable diseases caused by our lack of exercise.
“This is an historic day for Wales – change won’t come overnight, but the framework is now in place to make us a cycling nation”.