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Active travel: a low-key revolution

During the Covid-19 crisis, active travel has emerged as one of the leading influences on urban policy and design. Andy Fawkes and Chris MacFarlane consider the background to a renewed focus on public transport, walking and cycling, and why it strikes a chord with so much of KKP’s strategy work.


Active travel has always been a fundamental part of KKP’s approach to facility strategies of all kinds and, while some of the terminologies may have evolved over the 30-plus years KKP has been working with clients to improve their facilities and environments, the fundamental principles of how and why people move are largely unchanged.

Policy drivers, such as climate emergency, air quality and health inequalities, have been moving active travel up the agenda for many organisations and authorities for some time. The impact and experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic then added a new perspective. Now a different balance between public and private transport has become part of a national debate, with walking and cycling increasingly recognised as more than just a convenient way of getting from A to B for a minority of people.


Travel and transport have always been key components of the processes that underpin KKP’s approach to strategies for indoor and outdoor facilities of all kinds. The four pillars of our strategic approach are quantity, quality, availability and accessibility, making walk and drive times, along with public transport, part of the mix for any project. There is always a balance between car use and active travel but in more densely populated environments walking, riding and taking the bus or tram are important factors.


In recent years central government policy has reflected a growing interest in renegotiating the balance between motor traffic and active travel. In 2017 the Department for Transport issued technical guidance for local authorities on local cycling and walking infrastructure plans (LCWIP) with the aim of doubling cycling rates and significantly increasing walking rates by 2025. The guidance encourages councils to deliver better safety, better mobility and better streets “to make walking and cycling the natural choices for shorter journeys or as part of a longer journey”.


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