The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the way we move around today. Active travel could play a significant role in any green recovery investment package to accelerate the transition to climate neutrality and healthier and more equitable ecosystems. This will, however, depend on government policy and supporting legislation; level of investment; the ambition of local authorities to pursue active travel schemes; local political will, and of course, public response in the context of broader social and economic challenges.
In May 2020, the UK Department for Transport announced an Emergency Active Travel Fund to support local authorities in implementing temporary measures including pop-up ‘emergency’ bike lanes; wider pavements; junction improvements; and, cycle and bus-only streets. These phase one awards were announced in July 2020. Investment to support the creation of longer-term projects as part of a phase two Active Travel Fund was announced in November 2020.
The aim of the PEST project is to increase understanding of place-based policy and activity in relation to active travel in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic by investigating the response of English local planning and highway authorities to the UK government’s Active Travel Fund (ATF).
The project will investigate the scope and scale of the package of post Covid-19 measures adopted by all English local highway authorities to support active travel. It will identify successful (and less successful) processes of delivery in terms of engagement strategy, the actors involved, and any new or existing frameworks that were instrumental in project realisation.
A basic evaluation framework will be produced with stakeholder advisors that records and maps the nature of measures. The matrix will be completed using a mixture of desk-based research of online and published material; crowdsourcing and online surveys of highway officers; and follow-up tele/video conference interviews with stakeholders.
A series of in-depth case studies will be conducted for a selection of authority areas which will include site visits and interviews with key actors. We have selected Oxfordshire (where our institution is based) and the four case areas used for the Understanding Walking and Cycling study (Lancashire, Leeds, Leicestershire and Worcestershire).
We have formed a stakeholder advisory group which convenes online quarterly to scrutinise our research and monitor progress.
We hope that the research will contribute to understanding how Active Travel Funds are being used and the process of delivery. We will disseminate our findings widely and facilitate knowledge exchange. We will produce a freely available summary report downloadable from this website in September 2021.
This website provides regular updates of our progress through our blog.
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