Active Travel The start of the journey

We, the Enterprise and Business Committee of the National Assembly for Wales, have been looking into the progress and delivery of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.

What is Active Travel?

"Active Travel" means walking or cycling to work, school or other places such as your doctor's surgery or the leisure centre.

Image by Elliott Brown (Flickr). License under Creative Commons.

The Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 was proposed as a law by the Welsh Government, and passed by the National Assembly for Wales in October 2013.

The law requires local authorities across Wales to continuously improve routes and facilities for people who walk and cycle.

Local authorities must prepare maps identifying current and future routes in their local area. The Welsh Government and local authorities should make sure that new road schemes also consider the needs of people who walk and cycle.

Our Report

By reviewing the progress made to date, we are able to make sure that the aims of the Act are being achieved. It is important that we make it easier for people to make journeys on foot or on a bike so that we can encourage healthier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly travel in Wales.

We have put forward a number of recommendations for the Welsh Government to consider. A full copy of our report can be found below:

There are four main themes for our recommendations:

  • Funding and resourcing;
  • The mapping process;
  • Promoting active travel; and
  • Leadership.

Funding and Resourcing

The organisations we spoke to told us that some local authorities do not have the money to make the changes needed under the Act.

They said that funding has to be diverted from roads to encourage less reliance on cars.

The Committee were pleased that the Welsh Government is planning to allocate spending on active travel over a period of three years rather than one.

Bike: Image from Sri Dhanush K (Flickr) Licensed under Creative Commons.

Our recommendations

We think the Welsh Government should have a specific budget line dedicated to supporting active travel. The budget for active travel should be used for both supporting active travel infrastructure projects and promoting active travel.

In line with the recommendations in Professor Stuart Cole’s ‘Active Travel Independent Ministerial Report’, the level of funding for active travel should be reviewed.

The Mapping Process

The Act requires local authorities to produce two maps:

  • One map of the existing routes in their area (Existing Route Map); and
  • The second setting out how they would like to improve routes (Integrated Network Map).

Local authorities are producing Existing Route Maps which show the most appropriate walking and cycling routes in their area. They then have to produce Integrated Network Maps showing the new and improved active travel routes in their area.

Image: Jeremy Segrott (Flickr). Licensed by Creative Commons.

Everyone agreed that more should be done to make the maps available to apps such as Google Maps.

Our recommendations

We think the Welsh Government should ensure that there is enough expertise and capacity within its transport team to effectively assess the Existing Route Maps and Integrated Network Maps prepared by local authorities.

The Welsh Government should also make enough resources available to local authorities for developing their Integrated Network Maps.

Any information held within the Welsh Government central data capture system should be made open to the public, in particular for use in map apps.

Promoting Active Travel

The Act is designed to encourage people to change their behaviour.

Image by kdemerly (Flickr). Licensed by Creative Commons. Adjacent image by Mooganic (Flickr). Licensed by Creative Commons.

The people we spoke to and heard evidence from would like to see coordinated promotion, rather than the current piecemeal approach.

Our recommendation

We believe the Welsh Government should run a national campaign to promote the benefits of active travel.

The campaign should include approaches aimed at reaching all sections of Welsh society, including hard-to-reach groups.


People are concerned that there is a lack of leadership from the Welsh Government in pushing the active travel agenda in Wales.

We have recommended that they set more ambitious targets and make better use of the expertise of the Active Travel Board.

The Active Travel Board was set up to coordinate activity and help implement the Act. It is made up of members and organisations with an interest in active travel.

Our recommendation

We think the responsible Minister should consider how best to engage with the Active Travel Board and ensure it is effective in implementing the Act.

Welsh Government

The Active Travel Plan should contain a statement of ambition which sets targets for an increase in the number of walking and cycling journeys in Wales. It should also set out how each Welsh Government Department will promote and support active travel.

William Graham AM, Chair of the Enterprise and Business Committee

Chair's Message

“We want to make sure that sound building blocks are in place now in order to achieve the shift towards a healthier and greener way of travelling.
“We know that money is always in short supply so from now on the Welsh Government must choose to prioritise active travel over motoring and re-allocate road space as well as resources to support this aim.
“This will only work if they show the confidence to see through what they have started with this piece of legislation.”

William Graham AM,

Chair of the Enterprise and Business Committee.

Next steps

We have put forward our recommendations for the Welsh Government to consider.

To keep updated on our work, follow us on:

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