Active Travel England has placed Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) among its top ranked local authorities for delivering and promoting cycling, wheeling and walking schemes. It is one of just five local authorities to secure a tier three rating following a self-assessment of its work during 2022, validated by the Department for Transport
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has worked with partners to deliver a range of cycling and walking infrastructure such as new cycleways in Binley, Coventry, school streets in the Black Country and new pedestrian crossings in Solihull. The rating also recognised strong leadership support for active travel initiatives both within TfWM and the WMCA and council partners in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
This is with the aim of making it easier and safer for more people cycle and walk as a healthier and more environmentally sustainable option for transport. The ambitions of the region were highlighted through the #WMCA2041 plan to tackle climate change, improve health and reduce carbon emissions.
The region has proved successful in attracting unprecedented levels of funding for cycling and walking, such as through the Active Travel Fund and City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement. Also under development is the Starley Network – a growing map of safe cycling and walking routes named after the Starley family whose Coventry firm pioneered modern cycle design in the late 19th century.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: "It’s wonderful to see how the region's cycling and walking infrastructure is receiving such a high accolade of recognition not just in terms of what has been delivered to date but also to verify our future ambitions for an inclusive active travel network.
“We felt the benefits of cycling during the height of the Commonwealth Games 2022, where our Cycle Hire customers travelled distances equivalent to almost twice round the world – demonstrating a real appetite. We are very happy with our current ranking and to make further progress in the months and years ahead.”
West Midlands Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Adam Tranter, added: “Being one of the highest-ranked local authorities for active travel highlights both our proven track record for delivery of purpose-built schemes across the West Midlands area; as well as our appetite for growing active travel across the region as a transport option for everyday trips.
“We cannot rest on our laurels, despite the vote of confidence from Active Travel England, we are still at the start of what will be a challenging but important journey. We are mindful that moving forward we must continue to be ambitious and work collaboratively to successfully deliver schemes that enable more residents to walk, wheel and cycle across the region.”
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and council partners will continue to develop the active travel offer in the region and we continue to deliver high-ranking infrastructure that benefits the communities they serve.
Councillor Ian Ward, transport portfolio holder for the WMCA and leader of Birmingham City said: “It is great to see the region receive this well-deserved recognition for our efforts to build cycle routes and infrastructure that enables residents to walk, wheel and cycle as their key modes of transport. We look forward to continuing with high-quality delivery and aligning our active travel ambitions with the residents of our communities; allowing them the option to make healthier, greener and ultimately more sustainable travel options for how they choose to travel across the West Midlands.”
To secure the rating Active Travel England asked local transport authorities to grade themselves, with supporting evidence, in three areas: local leadership, plans and delivery record. An expert assessment panel then considered the evidence.
The highest rating available is rating four, which denotes a council with significant local leadership, ambition, and capability to deliver – but the top rank awarded was tier three.