Mendip's 'active travel' plans put walking and cycling at its heart

Mendip District Council plans to transform travel across its villages, towns and city by making it easier and safer for residents to get about by bike and on foot.

It aims to connect people and places by enabling the formation of an extensive network of cycle and walking paths along commuter routes, improving access, safety and creating connections with urban areas and towns, and between its villages.

The ambitious project delivers on the Council's priorities for a greener, fairer, more vibrant Mendip - and its aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.

It also taps-in to the recent surge in walking and cycling rates since the Coronavirus crisis, and the reluctance of some to return to public transport until a vaccine is found.

Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke, said: "There is a new-found appreciation of our environment and countryside since the COVID-19 crisis.

"People no longer just imagine a time without car journeys, less pollution, congestion and noise - they've actually experienced it. And they don't want to go back to how things were.

"We've a once-in-a-lifetime chance to act on this behaviour change for the good of our health, our environment, and for future generations."

Mendip's sustainable travel project has been further-boosted by the announcement from Government of emergency funding for pop-up cycle-lanes, pavement widening, and pedestrianised streets. The Department for Transport (DfT) has set aside a £250m for Local Authorities to develop highly localised solutions to help reopen and rebuild their areas, following the health emergency.

The first tranche of funding will be released this week, which means work on Mendip's sustainable travel project can begin immediately.

Cllr Wyke concluded: "We will be working in partnership with Mendip's city, town and parish councils, Somerset County Council, our local Chambers of Commerce, landowners, voluntary clubs and sports groups, to make the most of this opportunity and the funding available. A joint approach is the only way we can truly transform travel for residents, for good.

"After 20 years of campaigning for cycle routes in Mendip, it does feel like a joyous moment!"