We have developed our first Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) for Torbay. The proposed trails would represent a step change in cycling infrastructure in Torbay, with over 27km of traffic free or low traffic cycle routes, suitable for all-ages and abilities. Widened paths and dedicated routes will improve the accessibility for all, including for people in mobility scooters. It specifically addresses the active travel network as a whole and helps prioritise investment and resources to deliver bold, exciting walking and cycling schemes.
Adopting the new LCWIP is a key step towards a better active travel network in Torbay. Now, the focus and attention is towards turning the plans into reality, which means working up elements of the LCWIP in greater detail with community engagement, securing further funding for schemes and subsequently their delivery. We have 5 live schemes at the moment that we are developing.
Transport is the biggest source of carbon emissions in Torbay, accounting for 29% of the area's emissions while one quarter of households have no access to a car or van. Emissions from transport have barely changed in the last decades so there is a need for an ambitious shift to walking, cycling and public transport.
Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) are a strategic approach to identifying cycling and walking improvements required at a local level. They enable a long-term approach to developing networks and routes and form a vital part of the Government’s strategy to increase the number of trips made on foot or by cycle. They also ensure our communities and businesses are involved in how these plans have been developed.
Investment in cycling and walking schemes can help address these challenges: supporting improved public health through active travel; providing access to centres of employment, learning and skills training; cutting carbon emissions; and, helping bring about a green recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. It can deliver public realm improvements, further enhancing the outstanding built and natural environment of Torbay and contributing to the wider tourism offer.
Public consultation was carried out between February and March 2021.
We received 705 survey responses and 31 written responses. Key findings were: the majority of respondents support the LCWIP, with 71.4% in support, 17.4% “don’t know”, and 11.2% not supporting; respondents have increased the amount they walk and cycle during the covid pandemic began, with 43% stating they thought these changes would continue; 85% of respondents would like to see an increase in walking in Torbay, and 71% would like to see an increase in cycling. Respondents overall ranked Health & Wellbeing as the most important priority for the LCWIP to address, followed by Accessibility, Economic Development and Climate Change.
We found huge value in opening up the preparation of the LCWIP (and its subsequent monitoring and delivery) beyond the remit of traditional local authority transport planning. We created a walking and cycling officers group with representation across strategic planning, transport planning, highways, natural environment, public health, sport development and economic development who provided input into the whole process. We found this to be crucial as we know that as well as tackling climate change, delivering active travel is an important element of promoting health and wellbeing and economic development. This working group approach benefited the project with different perspectives and skills being added to the development of the plan, for instance adopting a public health inspired evidence based approach and benefiting from practical experience from active travel engagement work carried out through the sports development team previously. This whole-systems approach underlines how we are trying to work in Torbay. The LCWIP represents part of the answer to enabling active travel in Torbay but it operates within a wider system and a whole system response is needed from the Council, its partners and the Torbay community.
In terms of engagement with the community, we operated an 'open-door' approach with people as far as possible. As well as people being able to submit responses via surveys, etc. we made it clear we wanted to speak to people if they had concerns or observations to make - whether that be a 1-1 conversation, a meeting with a group of stakeholders or holding public virtual meetings with Q&A. This approach was positively welcomed by the community and helped to foster a number of positive relationships with stakeholders and the local authority officers which endure now.
The vast majority of specific written responses to the consultation focused on a specific short section of road - so being conscious of potential points of contention and as far as possible carrying out pre-engagement conversations with relevant stakeholders is important.
- Amount of new walking and cycling infrastructure installed.
- Number of people using this infrastructure.
- Number of people engaging with council schemes.
- Amount of funding committed to Local Transport Action Plan.