Market overview: Green travel infrastructure

Newcastle Grey Street visualisation

The latest Building Boardroom market overview examines the move towards active travel infrastructure such as cycleways and pedestrianised thoroughfares, and the variety of funding streams in place to drive this. Josephine Smit reports

This month the government published its long overdue transport decarbonisation plan, fleshing out some of the detail on action towards meeting its overarching net zero targets. The plan follows on from prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement last year that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans would be brought to an end from 2030, but its scope extends far beyond decarbonisation of road vehicles and other fossil fuel energy-intensive transport.

In the foreword to the plan, transport secretary Grant Shapps writes that, “as we build back better from the pandemic, it will be essential to avoid a car-led recovery”. In order to achieve that, both new and existing neighbourhoods, towns and cities need to be threaded with infrastructure such as cycleways, school streets and pedestrianised thoroughfares to allow for and encourage greener forms of travel.

While decarbonisation is a critical objective here, other policies are also increasing the focus on greener travel, including those promoting regeneration, economic recovery, health, air pollution and biodiversity. Most significant among these is prime minister Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda, which is driving urban improvement and recovery interventions through programmes including the Towns Fund and the Levelling Up Fund. At the same time the infrastructure installed to facilitate increased walking and cycling during the pandemic – some of it temporary – and the significant increases in walking and cycling seen over the past 18 months have focused attention on green travel’s potential.

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