Jonathan FullerMSc Transport Planning and Management
Separating Modes, Connecting Settlements: Exploring the challenges of delivering active travel infrastructure in rural contexts
THIS RESEARCH EXPLORES the challenges of delivering active travel infrastructure in rural contexts and in line with the requirements of a changed national policy context.
The publication of Gear Change and LocalTransport Note 1/20 and the formation of Active Travel England signal a shift in the national policy landscape and design guidance surrounding active travel infrastructure. With towns and cities cited as the primary focus of national activity, there is a need to highlight the challenges faced and encourage action to support the delivery of active travel infrastructure in rural contexts.
Focusing on the region covered by the sub-national transport body England’s Economic Heartland [EEH], this research involved semi-structured interviews with local, regional and national practitioners involved in the delivery of active travel infrastructure in the region. Alongside this, secondary data sources were used to contextualise the challenges faced and identify regional opportunities.
The research reveals that place characteristics, land acquisition and legal processes present unique challenges for the delivery of active travel infrastructure in rural contexts, compounded by difficulties in securing financial investment. Recent national active travel policies pose both challenges and opportunities for rural contexts, with participants’ highlighting uncertainties about the applicability, proportionality and implications of infrastructure design guidance.
The research recommends actions to be taken across local, regional and national levels to support the deliver y of active travel infrastructure in rural contexts. The research’s findings and recommendations have the potential to inform EEH’s emerging regional Active Travel Strategy and the future operation of Active Travel England.