The Core Strategy sets out our vision for travel.
It sets out key roles for:
- Walking and wheeling – these are everyone’s fundamental modes of travel; every journey at least starts and ends by walking or wheeling. In our vision, they underpin 15 minute neighbourhoods as these modes are essential for navigating all places such as residential estates, town centres, retail parks or villages, and for citizens to access local amenities and services.
- Cycling and scooting – these are light personal vehicles, adapted or mainstream, powered or unpowered, that help people access what they need without needing a car and without being constrained by the timetables, fares/ticketing and coverage of ride modes. They can help people navigate local places quicker than walking and wheeling or perhaps where distances to local services/amenities are beyond a comfortable walking or wheeling range, but also -depending on the individual and the reasons for travel – they can help everyone make longer journeys between neighbourhoods and centres. Increasingly this can also include cargo bikes. A growing number of businesses and households in the region and around the country have successfully switched some of their trips and deliveries from a car or van to a cargo bike. Often, walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting trips are made for the sake of exercise/leisure as well. It is good health, air quality and transport.
This Big Move is all about how we can encourage and enable everyone support people to walk, wheel, cycle or scoot when and where they want – which is convenient, accessible, safe and enjoyable.
We realise in making walking, wheeling, cycling, scooting for everyone, this requires unequal effort and resources to encourage behaviour change across user profiles and geographies.
What we mean by:
Walk and wheel
Walking and wheeling includes pedestrians, but it also includes people who use mobility aids such as powered/unpowered wheelchairs.
The use of prams and trolleys by those travelling such as on public transport also needs to be considered as well as other mobility aids such as guide dogs, sticks and canes.
Cycle and scoot
Cycling and scooting includes a range of pedal powered, electrically powered, and pedal assisted personal vehicles.
It includes vehicles that can currently legally be used on public highways and cycleways, as well as new devices that Government is trialling and proposing to legislate for.
It includes familiar vehicles such as bicycles, ebikes and escooters, as well as novel designs. There are and can be a range of designs of these vehicles to meet different users’ needs including adapted bikes and Tricycles for disabled people and children, or designs that enable the carriage of goods.
Whilst a strict definition does not exist, these vehicles doesn’t include powered vehicles that are not limited to below 30mph speeds and vehicles that should only be used in carriageways designated for general traffic (e.g. as opposed to cycle paths and ways).
What about powered mobility aids
Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs are already legislated for and can be used by eligible users.
However, some of these devices span our concepts of walking and wheeling, cycling and scooting with some mobility scooters in particular being permitted for use in environments for walking and wheeling (at lower speeds), and main carriageways (at higher speeds) but not cycleways and paths.
Promoting an inclusive agenda for walking and wheeling, and cycling and scooting is a critical part of our LTP and we want to ensure that opportunities are maximised to enhance and protect the mobility and accessibility for disabled citizens.
Everyone in the West Midlands should be enabled to safely access a range of local destinations on foot, in a wheelchair or on a bike or scooter; with the aim of at least half of all trips in our area to be made by active modes by 2030.
Many of our existing streets have been designed around motor vehicles; creating environments that are not welcoming for people to spend time in and do not support more sustainable travel modes. In many parts of the region, people do not feel safe walking, wheeling, cycling or scooting which acts as a barrier to being more active and travelling by these modes.
People of all ages and from all walks of life can walk, wheel, cycle and scoot easily and safely around our neighbourhoods and local centres, as well as making some longer hops from one neighbourhood to another.
As we step out of our homes onto our streets, we’re greeted by a safe and welcoming environment. Our pavements are decluttered and well-maintained, our local streets are quiet and feel safe to cycle/scoot and as we head toward main roads, we find segregated lanes/paths for cycling and scooting and safe crossing points. And when we arrive at our high streets and local centres, we find that these are environments where the congested high streets have given way to walking and wheeling friendly environments.
As a result, these places are more pleasant to spend time in and people are healthier and happier because they are more physically activity in their everyday lives.
Everyone in the West Midlands should be enabled to safely access a range of local destinations on foot, in a wheelchair or on a bike or scooter; with the aim of at least half of all trips in our area to be made by active modes by 2030.
Our Core Strategy says we need to:
How our Big Move will contribute to these goals:
We need a fit for purpose network of routes for walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting that connect people with their neighbourhoods and the region beyond.
Every journey starts with walking or wheeling. It’s not only critical for accessing 15 minute neighbourhoods, linking people to their local amenities and neighbours; it’s also a key part of every journey. Our envisaged walk and wheel networks will support a huge shift in how accessible our region is.
But our every-day lives regularly take us beyond our 15 minute neighbourhoods. This is where cycling and scooting can help. It doesn’t just help us travel around our local neighbourhoods more quickly, it can help us travel from one neighbourhood to the next and into nearby centres. Because cycling and scooting is so good at permeating the streets of our urban environment it will help to replace the go anywhere, anytime features of car travel, helping us to access more.
In this Big Move we put forward a comprehensive set of policies and strategies which will provide the networks, safe environments and access to the vehicles to support people to walk, wheel, cycle and scoot for their everyday journeys. If we are successful with this then one of the benefits could be to reduce traffic on our roads; which, as we’ve shown, in turn helps contribute to the virtuous circle needed to deliver Inclusive Growth across our region.
Policies that help us reduce traffic will also support this Big Move as quieter streets give us greater confidence to walk, wheel, cycle and scoot.
|Electrify Transport||New mobility solutions, such as electric scooters, bikes and cargo-bikes have a huge role to play to offer far more choice to people for real alternatives to driving. Electric bikes increase both the range people are willing to ride, but importantly also the effort required. You do not need to be a super-fit cyclist to get about on an electric bike or scooter. They have the opportunity to liberate far more people to be fit and healthy and to leave cars at home. This Big Move will support the transition to these new ways of travelling by providing the kinds of streets and roads needed to enable people to use them safely, and access to the vehicles themselves to give people greater choice.|
Key Issues Facing People and Businesses
Concerns over safety can diminish people’s quality of life and deter walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling. This has been highlighted in the National Travel Survey where road safety concerns and traffic were cited as the main reasons for why people chose not to walk and wheel. In the region, there is also a growing number of vulnerable road users killed or seriously injured (KSI). This then leads to devastating personal consequences for families and communities of those effected by fatal and severe injuries.
Road safety is a priority not only for the WMCA but all our LA partners. Through devolution WMCA has a statutory duty alongside local authorities to promote road safety. Other agencies too have major roles to play – be it Police, Fire, developers etc. Therefore, joining together to address car dominance by prioritising people walking and cycling will be a significant first step in tackling road danger.
The National Active Lives Survey evidences that the WMCA region has the highest rates of physical inactivity in England. Inactivity is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability, and directly contributes to one in six deaths in the UK. 27% of adults are doing less than 30mins of physical activity a week, compared to 21.4% England average. Both regionally and national, less than 25% of adults walk at least 3 times per week for travel and less than 3% for cycling for this purpose.
Evidence suggests if people are regularly active there is 50% less chances of type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure and Cardiovascular disease, 30% less chance of strokes and 25% less chance of certain cancers. Further there is good evidence, that being regularly active can improve mental wellbeing, reduce anxiety, improve skills and capabilities contributing to greater employability.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing health inequalities across our region, with those living in deprived areas experiencing significantly worse health and shorter healthy life expectancy. COVID-19 has therefore had a disproportionate impact on them, with mortality rates in the most deprived areas more than double those in the least deprived areas. Those less active are then often more isolated and will experience the greatest barriers to activity.
Evidence suggests that encouraging people to start walking and cycling is one of the most effective ways to get people active, but the opportunity needs to easy, accessible, safe and enjoyable.
In many parts of the region, people don’t feel safe walking, cycling, scooting or wheeling. Whether this is through the work of the Transport Champions especially, women, girls and LGBT communities feeling particularly unsafe in poorly lit areas, in quiet locations and where there is limited natural surveillance and eyes on the street. Fully tackling this and making our environments far more safer is vitally important and needs to happen before wide spread walking and wheeling is delivered. At the same time efforts are required to address perceptions towards personal safety must also be improved to ensure that this does not create a barrier to access in itself.
Many of our existing streets have been designed around the private car; creating environments that are not welcoming for people and do not support a variety of travel modes. Reducing the private car’s dominance through actions like slower speeds and reallocation of road space to other modes to develop a more balanced transport system will help ensure we consider people first and foremost and attractive environments for people to walk, cycle and spend time in.
When people walk, they legally have exclusive rights to the footways. When people cycle, they must choose between differing options – the road carriageway or some form of cycle path, which means the scale of the network is often significantly different. Walking journeys are typically under 1 mile (20 minute journeys), whereas cycle journeys are 5 miles, and will cover around 25 times the area of a walking network.
Our walk and wheel networks should be convenient, safe, attractive, accessible and signed to and from from every local neighbourhood and lead to significant destinations – i.e. work, shopping, education or leisure. They should also be coherent, connected and continuous. Yet often this is not the case.
In UK law, electric scooters, and many other new forms of powered cycle and scoot vehicles can only be used on private land. There are provisions in law enabling use of some eBikes on our transport network, but the rules are convoluted, inconsistent and not easy to understand.
The Government is currently considering whether the law should be changed to enable and regulate the use of powered scooters and cycles. To test the introduction of such vehicles into our transport system, DfT introduced legislation in July 2020 to enable rental e-scooter trials to take place on public roads and cycle lanes across the UK. The Government is now awaiting the outcome of these trials before deciding on whether and how to change the law.
Whilst awaiting this decision, many areas have nonetheless seen an increase in the illegal use of a broad range of privately-owned powered cycles and scooters being used on public roads, pavements and cycle lanes. While use of these vehicles remains illegal, it does demonstrate the real appetite there is for these kinds of vehicles and opportunities for expansion.
Not everyone has access to a pedal bike or their own “micromode ” and not everyone is practiced/proficient in their use, especially in our most deprived areas or low incomes. Also many people do not know how to cycle or access to adapted bike to suit their needs.
We need to develop a better understanding of citizens needs, barriers and enablers to change and opportunities for all to be able to have access and to use them.
Vehicle designs also need to cater for different users (e.g. cycles/scooters designed for physical impairments).
Key Issues Facing TfWM and Partners
The scale of improvement needed to help everyone have the ability to safely and conveniently walk, wheel, cycle and scoot around our neighbourhoods and region is significant.
The characteristics of travel by walking and wheeling are very different from cycling and scooting, just as these ways of getting around are very different from using public transport or driving a larger vehicle. So these methods of travel need to be catered for differently depending on the space.
When most of our urban environment was developed there was at least generally dedicated provision for walking and wheeling on pavements and footpaths but with most other road users sharing main carriageways. Overtime, use of the main carriageway has become dominated by motor vehicles, often moving at high speed.
There is also much of our urban environment where there are barriers to walking and wheeling owing to choices in how we have laid out streets, broken key routes and created severance with major roads, canals, and railways with limited crossings, and places where one use of land dominates an area. These are places where you have to travel far to reach services and amenities and so people are less able to rely on walking and wheeling.
So we have a lot of work to do to create more dedicated infrastructure and quieter streets to help people cycle and scoot, and to make places more accessible and connected by walking and wheeling.
Addressing these barriers will take time but could be accelerated through greater scale of investment and intervention, embedding improvements in ongoing programmes of renewals and maintenance of existing assets as well as wider capital investment in highways, and ensuring that new developments embed better infrastructure from day one.
Whilst we might aspire to provide completely separate spaces for different modes, there are times when this may not be possible or desirable.
We have places with constrained space in our urban area where we have to make trade-offs in who to prioritise. We can’t deliver whole segregated networks overnight at the scale we need, so there are trade-offs between acting at scale and delivering higher quality infrastructure. And sometimes, introducing greater segregation can introduce greater severance, making places less permeable for some road users.
So whilst we can work towards better separate provision in the urban area, road users will need to share spaces as well, and there are ways we can make this safer to do so (for example by reducing the speeds to match the pace of more vulnerable road users, or by reducing traffic of faster/heavier vehicles).
LTN 1/20 provides guidance on how to manage these trade-offs as well as our sustainable transport user hierarchy, but ultimately these can be challenging decisions to make where compromise is needed.
Powered cycle and scoot modes (such as e-scooters) represent a big opportunity to help a range of people access more of the opportunities in the urban environment without a car. Their use is already common both through the escooter trials, and through illegal use of privately owned vehicles, and this shows that there is a latent demand, that they will help meet the needs of many members of the public. It is anticipated that legislation will soon allow the use of approved variants of these vehicles on public infrastructure in the UK. There is the potential for different designs to help people with different needs get around (including disabled users, people travelling with children, and people carrying cargo). However, there are concerns and risks to be managed including concerns over injuries and casualties to users and those who are walking and wheeling.
Current plans for developing cycling networks have not fully accounted for the impact that legalising powered cycle and scoot modes could have on the demand to use the network and requirements of its users.
This page will touch on some highlights of progress – as the LTP is a joint document, it would be good to reflect local and regional successes:
- Investment in Cycling and walking circa with £43.2m committed to cycling and walking infrastructure and behaviour change activities across the region
- West Midlands Local Design guidance, currently in its 3rd edition to be aligned with LTN 1/20
- 17 miles of high quality segregated (fully curbed and light segregation) cycle track delivered
- Micromobility including West Midlands Cycle hire and E-scooters trial
- Low traffic neighbourhoods
- 23 School Streets across the region, with additional funded
- Cycling for Everyone – an innovative programme to encourage those in the most deprived areas to cycle and benefit from investment
- 21k users of cycle hire during the CWG cycling around the world
- Partnerships with British Cycling and Living Streets
- Accessible cycling trials such as Ride Ahead Together which won the national modeshift Community award.
Policies and proposals
Government committed to a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to reach its ambition of “half of all journeys in towns and cities to be walked or cycled by 2030”. In addition, Government’s Future of Urban Mobility Strategy outlines that “it is essential that people have the chance to make the most of the opportunities from powered cycle and scoot, in a way that is safe for both the users of these new vehicles and road users more generally. The Government is saying that walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting should be the “natural first choice for many journeys”. This will require us to give more priority to sustainable travel, and therefore being prepared to reduce the convenience of private motor vehicle use.
Improving accessibility by walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting, and shifting travel towards these modes, is key to delivering our LTP aims, especially 15 minute neighbourhood/45 minute region connectivity.
In support of Government’s direction, our own ambition is:
Everyone in West Midlands should be enabled to safely access a range of local destinations on foot, in a wheelchair or on a bike or scooter; with the aim of at least half of all trips in our area to be made by active modes by 2030.
Our position of supporting the liberty of choice is focussed on helping us to improve access to opportunities without a car. In particular, helping people use powered cycle and scoot modes will deliver a step change in mobility and accessibility for citizens across the West Midlands.
We believe the choice of powered cycle and scoot modes does not contradict promotion of public transport or active travel, and will instead enhance them by improving access to public transport and by helping us accelerate walk, wheel, cycle and scoot network development.
WMCA is committed to reducing physical inactivity by also aims to increasing levels of active travel, walking and cycling and powered cycling and scooting as an effective mode to reduce congestion, address the climate emergency and improve the health and wellbeing of the people living in the UK.
Our strategies and policies are focussed across the following themes:
- Strong collaborative leadership to ensure we are meeting the region’s needs for walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting
- A network comprised of routes that enable convenient, attractive, safe and direct travel by walk, wheel, cycle and scoot across the West Midlands
- Convenient, safe and secure ancillary facilities to help people with their cycles and scooters
- Improving access to cycle and scoot vehicles
- Integrating walk, wheel, cycle and scoot with ride modes
- Education, promotion and awareness raising so all road users understand how to make the most of walk, wheel, cycle and scoot options and how to keep each other safe.
Local elected leaders, local authorities and organisations need to champion walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting in the region to achieve LTP objectives and deliver WMCA’s aims. This will be done through harnessing:
- Financial capital- boosting levels of investment behaviour change including into infrastructure & activation
- Political capital- building local and political support for changes to the transport network, based in Active Travel England principles and objectives
- Human capital- fostering greater resources and expertise for design and delivery of provision active modes
There is also a need for action around:
- Accelerating collaborative work to get more people active including working with communities and partners to encourage behaviour change to understand and address the barriers and enablers to get encourage everyone if they wish to do so walk and cycle , which drives our investment priorities.
- Partnering with local and regional transport and health partners to deliver change
- Supporting local walking and cycling forums and community events
- Supporting officers and leaders within the CA and LA’s to accelerate active travel plans within the region
- Increasing awareness by local leaders of not only the monetary benefits of active travel, but also the social and health benefits when assessing schemes.
The WM aims to be a Centre of Excellence for Active Travel in order to develop training with our partners for:
- CA staff to promote cycling internally and externally
- Staff to better understand best practice and LTN 1/20 design guidance
- Local elected officials to champion cycling in their constituencies
- Test and learn approaches to deliver change
- Embedding a community of learning and practice network which informs practice and policy
- Advocating walking and cycling in all WMCA policies
WMCA commits to:
- Increase the proportion of total transport investment that is spent on active travel provision and leverage developer and other third-party funding wherever possible.
- Increase resourcing and expertise in local government to develop and deliver active travel schemes, including the development of a Centre of Excellence for Active Travel and infrastructure design.
- Ensure that active travel policies and interventions are integrated into all relevant strategic plans in the West Midlands.
- Strengthen the importance of economic, social, environmental and health benefits in active travel business cases and appraisal.
- Work with community groups and active travel advocacy groups to foster grassroots support for active travel investment and uptake.
We need a fit for purpose network comprised of routes that enable inclusive, convenient, attractive, safe and direct travel by walk, wheel, cycle and scoot across the West Midlands – allowing people to connect people with their neighbourhoods and the region beyond coupled with citizen engagement to activate our neighbourhoods.
High levels of local network density and permeability are important so that all people can access their neighbourhoods, alongside complementary regional routes and connections to public transport for longer journeys.
Government has set out guidance on how networks should be developed, this includes guidance for producing Local Cycling, Walking and Improvement Plans (which helps authorities to plan and prioritise network improvements) and LTN 1/20 design guidance (which helps authorities design high quality infrastructure). This will be delivered through work done by Active Travel England.
The West Midlands Combined Authority published an LCWIP for regional routes in 2019 and a number of our local authorities have also published LCWIPs for local networks. We also maintain West Midlands design guidance for active travel.
However, the level of behaviour change required to support the aims of our LTP, and the Government’s own commitments to increase active travel and enable powered cycle and scoot modes all suggest that we will need to plan infrastructure for higher levels of demand than our previous assumptions and we will need to account for new vehicle designs. This has implications for the overall level of investment required, route selection and infrastructure design. Government is considering updating design guidance.
Planning of the network should take into consideration issues such as:
- Road space reallocation- Transport infrastructure currently prioritises space for motorised vehicles, but there is an opportunity to encourage uptake of powered cycle and scoot modes, as well as active travel by reallocating road space for these users.
- Scale of improvement required- There is much work to be done on the current infrastructure to remove barriers to active travel and powered cycle and scoot, as well as a significant amount of new infrastructure that’s needed for increased accessibility.
- Citizen consultation and activation – understanding where and how people move
- Drive to be more inclusive and accessible in design, delivery and impact
The Starley Network is our region’s identified network walking and cycling routes in the West Midlands. The network already covers 500 miles of connected routes and forms the backbone of the strategic cycle network for the region and will connect into our local communities via safe streets. WMCA will continue to work with local authorities to develop, deliver and extend the network.
WMCA and the local authorities will work with communities and key stakeholders to maintain a regional Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (our Starley Network), identifying a coherent network of segregated routes, low traffic streets, pedestrian zones, leisure routes, crossing points and cycle/scooter parking provision, which connect communities with key destinations (such as jobs, shops, schools, colleges and healthcare).
TfWM and local authorities will work with developers to ensure all new developments make excellent provision for walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting (including cycle storage and other ancillary facilities) and that active travel routes into and through developments are fully integrated into the wider Starley network.
There are a number of principles that will be crucial to apply to how we develop our networks to help us encourage and enable people to walk, wheel, cycle and scoot:
- In a future where we are deciding and providing for increased levels of walk, wheel, cycle, scoot trips we should design, deliver, and develop infrastructure according to ambitious walk, wheel, cycle and scoot flows rather than limiting plans to accommodating current target flows.
- Align all new active travel infrastructure designs to meet or exceed LTN 1/20 principles (focus on designing coherent, direct, safe, comfortable and attractive routes).
- Inclusive design and accessibility should be embedded in the delivery of our network, ensuring that it caters for the diverse needs of users (and their vehicles/aids), including powered and unpowered cycles and scooters. Local regulation and enforcement should compliment excellent infrastructure design.
- Ensure that all new active travel infrastructure is kept clean, well-maintained and free from obstruction (including parked vehicles, street furniture and signage)
- Work collaboratively with developers and Local authorities to leverage investment in multi-modal transport schemes and housing developments and with Active Travel England to deliver their aims and secure investment for WM schemes.
- As part of our behaviour change approach, we will work with communities to co-design how we can activate planned provision.
Our programmes to develop network infrastructure will need to be comprised of a number of key elements:
- Segregated routes, where we deliver physical separation of transport users through dedicated cycle lanes, as well as through contraflow lanes.
- Low traffic streets, where we regulate traffic to reduce the risk to vulnerable road users particularly where there is a lack of physical separation;
- Pedestrian zones, particularly in busy local, town and city centres where high volumes of pedestrians are circulating; and
- Green and blue routes, which mainly support a range of trips. They could play a greater role in general travel if challenges around security and natural surveillance can be addressed.
- Tactical improvement of crossing points.
As well as delivering new infrastructure, existing infrastructure will need to be updated to meet evolving needs.
We will work with Government to understand the impact of policy on required and expected demands by walk, wheel, cycle and scoot modes, and to review and refine design guidance and network plans accordingly.
TfWM and the local authorities will work together to maintain, a regional LCWIP focussed on longer distance connectivity on corridors between key centres and across the region, and a number of local LCWIPs focussed on infrastructure connecting local communities with their neighbourhoods including key amenities and public transport links
We will require that new transport developments design in space for active modes rather than leave them as a future proofing exercise. We will ensure that large corridor schemes deliver measures that improve infrastructure for active modes along the corridor as a priority and where this is not possible, that equivalent alternate provision is provided along an adjacent parallel corridor with links to the main desire line to destinations is maintained. This will be considered as part of our proposed regional guidance for road space reallocation.
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Ancillary Cycling and Scooting Facilities
Whilst a high quality network of routes and activation are critical for encouraging and enabling cycling and scooting, supporting facilities are also important.
A fundamental facility is safe and secure places to store cycles and scooters. However, other facilities such as showers/changing facilities, lockers, charging for powered cycles and scooters, and cycle/scooter maintenance facilities are all also important provisions.
Often these facilities can be provided at destinations on private land by private entities. However, in many key places where there are many visitors to different local destinations and/or where there is a lack of space on private property, it can make sense to provide facilities on public land (at times maintained at the public’s expense).
Investment in supporting facilities like this is an important complimentary measure that can help improve access by walk, wheel, cycle and scoot.
Features of Facilities
Cycle and scoot storage and servicing facilities should be:
- set in a suitable location for access (destination and potentially origin locations and close to cycling infrastructure),
- well-lit, safe, and secure
- able to meet current and projected demand
- Inclusive for a variety of users and a variety of vehicle types
WMCA will work with local authorities to explore where housing could be supported by public residential cycle/scooter storage and where planning policies may better support the construction of private cycle/scooter storage in front of properties.
WMCA will work with local authorities to develop local plans for providing ancillary cycling and scooting facilities (including vehicle storage, lockers, charging and maintenance) for personal cycles and scooters. These will focus on safe, secure and convenient provision in key destinations including:
- City, town, district, local centres
- Business and retail parks
- Key public services
- Transport interchanges
- Residential areas with inadequate private storage options
Plans for delivering public ancillary infrastructure will be integrated as appropriate into wider proposals for mobility hubs.
Delivery of proposals will be supported by local funds for transport, working with developers, and encouraging local businesses and services providers to improve their facilities and to make them available where appropriate to the public.
Access to Vehicles
There are times when the public might not have access to a cycle/scooter of their own and we can support them by helping them access a vehicle.
There are a few key barriers that might be getting in the way of accessing a vehicle:
- Affordability of buying a personal cycle/scooter
- Being somewhere far from home, where it is not possible to transport a cycle/scooter
- The regulatory environment does not permit the use of a vehicle that would best meet someone’s needs.
Financial assistance to purchase a cycle/scooter and public shared cycle/scooter can help with the first two issues. But the last issue can only be resolved with significant legislative reform by Government, and local regulation as needed within that new regulatory environment.
Bikes and e-scooters should be financially accessible to all potential users. Often the cost of owning, refuelling and storing a vehicle can become barriers to mobility. Cycle Hire and Escooter hire can address the barrier of ownership for people to take up cycling and scooting.
Mobility credit schemes currently allow people to trade in their personal cars for credits towards public transport. This can be expanded to include credits towards powered cycle and scoot vehicles.
Provision could be supported through grant funded schemes such as Big Birmingham Bikes or for example through partnerships with public health partners to provide funding to communities and enabling them to decide how it is used in terms of providing access to vehicles.
The barriers in confidence and skills can still remain given the existing low levels of cycling in the West Midlands. The cycle and scooter designs utilised in public hire schemes should consider the needs of different users (e.g., adapted cycles/scooters designed for disabled people).
Residents with less public transport connectivity, less likely to participate in active travel and in a lower socioeconomic bracket should be targeted by both public hire schemes and mobility credits.
It is also important to enable unplanned, spontaneous or infrequent use of these modes to give people flexible and dynamic options for travel. The region is developing various shared mobility schemes including cycle hire and e-scooters to enable this.
WMCA and its partners will develop schemes to give people better access to bikes, e-bikes and e-cargo bikes, particularly targeting those who can't afford to purchase their own vehicles. Measures will include grant schemes, mobility credits and public hire schemes.
Regulating Powered Cycle and Scoot
Powered cycling and scooting encompasses a wide variety of small, lightweight vehicles operating at powered speeds of no more than 25 km/h.
In UK law, electric scooters, and many other new forms of micromobility can be owned privately but are only allowed to be used on private land. Electric powered pedal cycles above a certain horsepower also require licensing and insurance to be used on UK roads.
DfT introduced legislation in July 2020 to enable rental e-scooter trials to take place on public roads and cycle lanes across the UK. Birmingham’s e-scooter trial was launched in September 2020.
E-scooters and other micromobility modes have the opportunity to provide:
- Affordable personal transport
- Low emission vehicle types
- Fewer car journeys
- Last mile connections with public transport
As shown through the e-scooter trial, there is a real appetite for powered scooting and opportunities for expansion of public hire schemes and private ownership.
Private ownership is likely to be supported by changes in national regulation, which is expected by the end of 2022. This will allow for private powered cycles and scooters to be used on roads, pavements, parks, within town centres or canal towpaths.
Local authorities are likely to be given the powers to regulate and enforce speed and licensing standards.
Micromobility also has its own infrastructure needs, such as segregated lanes and public charging facilities. Charging and other considerations for powered cycling and scooting are further addressed in the Green Transport Revolution Big Move.
We are committed to working with the Government to permit safe operation of powered cycle and scoot vehicles in our area. Our position on a number of key issues includes:
- We support the enablement of private vehicles as well as those accessed through public hire schemes.
- We support regulation that aims to enable a range of designs to be developed catering for a range of users, particularly considering designs that:
- Help those with reduced mobility and/or impairments
- Support the carriage of children and cargo (personal and commercial), and
- Are more suitable and comfortable for longer distance travel
- Are more suitable for shorter distance travel and compact carriage on public transport
- Deliver greater stability, comfort and safety than e-scooters
- Regulation of vehicles must ensure user and non-user safety through manufacturing standards including but not limited to speed, power, weight, and steering.
- Regulations must create a simple and clear environment where it is easily and intuitively understood where and how vehicles can be used.
Education, Promotion and Awareness Raising
Concerns over safety are a major barrier to active travel uptake. By creating training for all road users they should have better skills to keep each other safe. We will develop training for:
- cyclists and e-scooter users to ride safer
- bus and freight drivers to make it safer for cyclists on roads
- safe speeds on roads to reduce KSIs
- internal local authority staff on active travel and how to promote it
- blue light partners to develop road safety training
Community outreach also plays an important role in engaging with groups that may face barriers to active travel. Local people must be considered early in the process to ensure schemes are supported locally in the long term and so that residents are aware of the facilities available to them. Businesses are also important to engage with, to expand facilities at sites of employment.
A collaborative approach with multi-agency partners will allow us to utilise the existing channels available to promote cycling and walking/wheeling in the region. We will conduct research so that we can understand the best methods of promotion in the region.
The following West Midlands programmes are funded through the Active Travel Fund to improve cycling, walking and scooting awareness.
- Active Travel Partnerships – Cycling UK, British Cycling, Living Streets
- Park that Bike
- Road Safety package
- Love to Ride
- Travel Planning Support
- Social Prescribing
- Adapted Cycles offer
- Smart bike lights offer
Future community engagement and education schemes may rely on the Active Travel Fund or other available grant funding.
WMCA will work with local and national partners and major employers to develop coherent and well-resourced education, awareness raising and promotional activities that support more people to walk, wheel, cycle and scoot safely for everyday journeys. This needs to support existing as well as new users and consider all road users, including freight operators and motorists.
Integration with Public Transport
Many people access public transport by walking to bus stops and stations. The active travel and powered cycling and scooting realm is important for encouraging PT use and connecting people door-to-door with their desired destinations. It is important for achieving the vision of 15 minute neighbourhood/ 45 minute region – with people being able to complete end to end journeys seamlessly using active and public transport.
Docking stations and storage for cycle hire bikes, rented e-scooters and personal bikes should be within proximity of other transport hubs. Co-locating active travel infrastructure with PT stations makes it easier to use bikes or scooters for last mile travel.
Cargo can be similarly integrated. E-cargo bike hires should be located near distribution centres, with further storage near delivery destinations such as mobility hubs and parcel lockers. Mobility hubs can fulfil these roles through current trials in the WM.
Public Transport vehicles, including buses, trams and trains, should better accommodate bikes on them. Often people are turned away for attempting to board with a bike or e-scooter.
WMCA will work collaboratively with transport providers to develop policies for allowing bikes and e-scooters on board. Work may also need to be done to provide facilities within public transport carriages to accommodate active travel and powered cycles and scooters.
WMCA will work closely with local authorities and transport operators to better integrate active travel and public transport provision through improved active travel links to public transport stops and interchanges; clearer policies on cycle carriage on rail, bus, Spring and Metro networks; and roadspace reallocation schemes to give more space to public transport and active travel on key road corridors.