Olympic cycling gold medallist Chris Boardman is to lead a new Government agency tasked with improving cycling and walking infrastructure in England.
And its HQ will be in York.
The Department for Transport announced that Mr Boardman has been appointed interim commissioner of Active Travel England (ATE), which launches today (Saturday).
ATE is responsible for managing the national active travel budget, awarding funding to projects that improve health and air quality.
The Government has confirmed the agency will be based in York from the summer. No location for the HQ has been disclosed.
City of York Council leader Keith Aspden said: “The confirmation that new Department for Transport active travel team will be based in York, creating new, skilled and exciting jobs, is a welcome boost to the city and our employment market.
“This is a great vote of confidence in York and our already existing skills in the sector, and follows the confirmation that the city is to also see several hundred new Cabinet office jobs relocated into York Central after months of lobbying.”
‘Better places to live’
Active Travel England will approve and inspect active travel schemes, and identify failings in highways which are dangerous for vulnerable road users.
The new body will also help spread good practice in design, implementation and public engagement in relation to new infrastructure.
Mr Boardman, who delivered the first phase of Greater Manchester’s active travel system known as the Bee Network, said the positive effects of high levels of cycling and walking are “clearly visible in pockets around the country where people have been given easy and safe alternatives to driving”.
He continued: “Perhaps most important of all, though, it makes for better places to live while helping both the NHS and our mission to decarbonise.
“The time has come to build on those pockets of best practice and enable the whole nation to travel easily and safely around their neighbourhoods without feeling compelled to rely on cars.”
Cllr Aspden added: “York is rightly recognised as one of the best places to live, work and visit in the UK and is renowned for its diverse culture, rich heritage, great transport links and a booming business sector.
“York has much to offer to any relocated office function, particularly one that will hopefully see our efforts to make York even greener and cleaner by investing in active and sustainable transport infrastructure supported by this new team.
“Supporting sustainable transport across York is key to tackling some of the major challenges facing our city – carbon reduction, congestion and air quality.
“Whilst the creation of the new roles is excellent news, job relocations alone don’t constitute a Northern strategy that would bring together policy and investment for the region. I look forwarding to seeing the promises made to our city, region and the North, to level up, being delivered beyond political slogans.”
The Government announced £5.5 million of investment in cycling and walking schemes today.
– £3 million to boost cycling infrastructure around railway stations.
– £2.2 million to explore active travel being prescribed on the NHS.
– £300,000 for electric cargo bike initiatives.