alking and cycling routes in England will be boosted with a £200 million fund to make crossings and junctions safer, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.
Schemes could also include more paths in rural areas, new routes for children to walk to school and more inclusive street designs to support people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Government agency Active Travel England is inviting local authorities outside London to apply for a share of the investment.
The DfT noted an Office for National Statistics study from 2021 which showed half of women feel unsafe walking after dark in a quiet street near their home, so councils will need to demonstrate that their proposed projects “take women’s safety into account”.
The winning bids will be announced later this year.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “This £200 million investment for hundreds of upgraded routes and paths across the country will help to reduce emissions, boost local economies and create jobs.
“These new schemes will make it safer for children to walk to school and will better connect rural communities, helping more people choose active travel as an affordable and healthy way to get around.”
Previous funding rounds saw a new cycle lane built in Coventry last year which generated 10,000 trips in its first month and a new walking and cycling route in Manchester where people travelling on foot and by bike are separated from motor vehicles.
DfT figures show 46% of children aged five to 16 walked or cycled to school in England in 2021.
The Government’s objective is for 55% of all primary school children to walk to school by 2025.
Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman said: “Active travel is convenient, cheap, low carbon and health-giving.
“It’s a choice we need to make sure everyone has.
“Sometimes it only takes relatively small changes, such as crossings on school routes or convenient places to park a bike, to give us the option to walk, wheel or ride.
“Our job is to help local authorities across the country ensure that everyone has more attractive options for their daily trips and we are excited to help them deliver those options.”
Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns of charity Cycling UK, said: “Local authorities with ambitious schemes to improve cycling and walking routes will be relieved they can now apply for funding.
“But if the Government wants to reach its own targets to increase levels of walking and cycling, it has to move from one-year competitive funding rounds to long-term and secure funding streams, giving councils the confidence and ability to plan and deliver connected networks of active travel routes.”
Local Government Association transport spokesman David Renard said: “It’s helpful that the Government recognises capacity constraints that councils face, and this funding will support them with efforts to get more people out of their cars and using greener forms of transport.
“However, funding must be delivered to where it is needed the most, not based on costly competitive bids between areas.”