What needs might be unmet?
The current economic climate has placed severe pressures upon levels of investment in transport infrastructure. Traditional traffic engineering interventions on the road network are capital intensive and becoming increasingly difficult to fund, particularly as all of the ‘easy wins’ have already been made. There are thus fewer higher-return sites available in an already highly engineered environment, and those that remain are costly, and with poorer returns. Major reductions in the capital budget therefore mean that far fewer schemes can be delivered.
Softer measures in education, training and publicity will have a crucial role to play in making roads safer. However, public sector revenue budget cuts and the removal of specific funding streams such as the road safety grant have placed pressure on this area too. Beyond the current programmes of delivery to vulnerable road users, there is a particular requirement to support the needs of young drivers and the needs of an aging population with more older people driving.
Active travel/casualty reduction
There are missing links in the Stockton-On-Tees cycle route infrastructure. There also remain some significant barriers which separate communities and restrict active travel.
Cyclist training for year 5 and year 6 is covered by the Council’s training provision, and funded by the Department for Transport’s allocation for Bikeability levels 1 & 2. Turning young, basic-level cyclists into capable and regular commuters does however require further investment and there is currently a shortfall in provision for on-road training at Y7-11 (ages 11-16) for Bikeability Level 3. DfT funding for this is now becoming available but it requires local match funding to gain access to a DfT Bikeability grant.
Results from the Big Lottery-funded Active Travel project (based at The Hub) have shown that there is latent demand for higher levels of cycling and walking amongst adults, for both workplace commuting and also leisure and everyday transport. Pilot schemes for older cyclists (’Silver Cyclists’) have proven both popular and effective (Active Travel Monitoring Report, Sustrans 2011). Pilot funding has come to an end, and alternative funding will be required going forward.
The Government’s local transport white Paper, Cutting Carbon, Creating Growth: Making Sustainable Local Transport Happen DfT 2011 sets out the Government’s vision for a sustainable local transport system that supports the economy and reduces carbon emissions. The principal focus for action will be at local level. The key points in the paper are reducing the number of grant-making schemes and decentralising decision-making powers to local authorities, local economic partnerships (LEPs) and voluntary community and social enterprises (VCSEs). The Tees Valley has been successful in securing Local Sustainable Transport Funding in 2015/16 from the DfT for a range of measures to promote sustainable transport and increase residents levels of activity and access to services and employment.