DEPUTY Minister for Economy and Transport pledged to put ‘active travel’, walking and cycling for short everyday journeys, on an equal footing with other modes of transport during a meeting with Carmarthenshire’s cycle forum.
Funding for active travel has increased from £5m to £50m during Mr Waters’ time in the Senedd, a tenfold increase. This puts spending on walking and cycling per head in Wales on a par with places like London and Manchester as Wales seeks to embrace low carbon, healthier ways of travel from A to B.
At the meeting, Lee admitted the ambition would take many years to become a reality, and stressed the importance of local groups like Carmarthenshire Cycle Forum in pressuring local authorities to raise standards.
Lee said: “We had a great discussion about the new Wales Transport Strategy and its role in achieving our ambition to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It’s going to take significant change to achieve those targets, and one way we can meet them is by putting active travel on an equal footing with other modes of transport.”
“Changing travel habits is not easy to achieve but we have to make a big effort if we are to tackle our health crisis and our climate crisis. We want local authorities to be ambitious in their plans, and to reach out to people who currently would not consider swapping a local car journey for a bike ride or a journey on foot and design safe routes that would encourage them to give it a try.”
“As Deputy Minister for Transport, I am pushing local authorities to come up with a pipeline of continuous improvements for their active travel networks, with funding allocated if and when good quality is achieved. Increasing funding by more than tenfold is a big deal, but I’m keen to see local groups like the Carmarthenshire Cycle Forum agitating for better as we strive for active travel to be treated professionally, as a legitimate form of transport.”
Chair of the Carmarthenshire Cycle Forum, Phil Snaith, said: “Lee has been an energetic and refreshing change as our local Senedd member; offering support and encouragement in our quest to make Llanelli and the surrounding area a safer and more convenient place to cycle and walk. We really believe that over the past two years people on bicycles are much more numerous and visible in and around Llanelli, helped perhaps in part to the boom in electric bicycle sales. As Deputy Transport Minister Lee has put bold and practical policies in place backed up by significant extra funding and I truly believe the step change we have waited years for, has arrived thanks to Lee’s efforts and commitment.”