Elevating Active Travel Standards: Why is the government promoting this?

Cycle & Walkways
Elevating Active Travel Standards: Why is the government promoting this?

On 30th July 2021, the Transport Secretary released a grant for active travel off the back of seeing a significant uplift in this form of travel throughout the pandemic. It goes to reason that transportation in the United Kingdom must undergo substantial change in the coming years if the country is going to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050.

With the Decarbonising of transport, this will require a shift to cleaner and active modes of transportation, and the government has set a target of 50% of all journeys in towns and cities to be made by active travel modes by 2030.

There are several benefits to increasing the use of active travel modes, including health benefits from exercise, better air quality from replacing car journeys with walking or cycling and economic benefits from relieving congestion and improved public health.

What you will look to see in this article is the following.

  • Key points when considering a healthy local transport strategy.
  • Why active travel is so essential to the UK
  • Planning for active travel
  • How Meon is looking to help achieve these active travel schemes.

Walking, cycling and generally being active is good for our physical and mental health. By switching to active travel for more journeys, we'll see an improvement in health, quality of life and the environment.

There are many benefits of increasing physical activity through active travel. While motorised road transport has a key role in supporting the economy, a rebalancing of our travel system is needed.

Key Points when considering a healthy local transport strategy

  • Physical inactivity directly contributes to 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and costs £7.4 billion a year to business and wider society.
  • The growth in road transport has been a major factor in reducing levels of physical activity and increasing obesity.
  • Building walking or cycling into daily routines are the most effective ways to increase physical activity.
  • Short car trips (under 5 miles) are a prime area for switching to active travel and public transport.
  • Health-promoting transport systems are pro-business and support economic prosperity. They enable optimal travel to work with less congestion, collisions, pollution, and they support a healthier workforce.


(Data source - Working Together to Promote Active Travel A briefing for .... https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/523460/Working_Together_to_Promote_Active_Travel_A_briefing_for_local_authorities.pdf)

Why active travel is so essential to the UK

Active travel brings many apparent benefits to the environment but also yourself. Daily physical activity is hugely important for maintaining health, and inactivity directly contributes to one in six deaths in the UK. Active travel is, therefore, an essential component of our UK's transport solution.

Active travel is, and should continue to be, a top priority for policymakers and planners. Local authorities already have tools to assist with this, including refocusing budgets, linking to climate emergency declarations, and leading by example.

The recommendation from the chief medical officers of the UK is clear:

  • All adults should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate-intensity activity in bouts of ten minutes or more.
  • All adults should undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength at least two days a week and, for those at risk of falls, two sessions of balance and coordination exercise a week.
  • All children from age 5 and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.
  • All children under 5 should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.
  • Everyone should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.

(Data source - Working Together to Promote Active Travel A briefing for .... https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/523460/Working_Together_to_Promote_Active_Travel_A_briefing_for_local_authorities.pdf)


Planning for active travel

Selecting where to create active travel infrastructure will usually be done through a combination of transport modelling and local data and knowledge about residents' concerns. Cycle routes and active travel networks are elements of the more comprehensive cycling strategy, and, as with any transport network, their planning requires a high level of transport and traffic planning and engineering design.

If the UK's potential for cycling is to be realised, this level of planning should become the norm. This section focuses first on general principles and then examines the different stages in planning networks for cycle traffic.


How Meon is looking to help achieve these active travel schemes

We are being increasingly encouraged to cycle to and from work and limit the usage of cars in city centres and other built-up locations. Cycle routes are growing in popularity as the number of cyclists increases daily. 

There are three subjects to be considered when designing active travel schemes.

  1. Safety for the installers and for the subsequent network users.
  2. Durability and whole-life cost modelling.
  3. Sustainability through reduced carbon emissions.

Feedback from asset owners across the UK and Ireland suggests that there's a growing concern about the ongoing maintenance costs of cycleways. It is, therefore, increasingly important to ensure the project is constructed 'Right First Time' with a long-term whole-life cost consideration.

With a reduced reliance on large areas of coloured surfaces for cycleway schemes, there's a greater need for visual clarity with the lining and informative markings. The recent developments in highway grade paint technology puts paint onto the table-of-decision when considering options for cycleway schemes. Guaranteed system performance can be achieved with both water and solvent based systems. A key benefit of using paint systems is that they're applied thin-lay with a very low build yet offering excellent visibility levels with strong daylight Qd values and impressive night-time Rl values that are consistently greater than 150mcd.

Standardised designs of informative markings is regarded as a key contributor to rider confidence. Delivery of standardised markings can be achieved in a couple of different ways. Either through the use of factory cut preformed thermoplastic or through the use of stencils in conjunction with paint systems.

Meon's specialist cycleway system is the ideal solution for those safety critical locations, using the UltraGrip L244 MMA cycleway coating. Being an MMA product, the UltraGrip L244 has very high durability and provides a long-lasting solution, meaning less need for re-visits to refresh as traffic increases.

One of the key benefits of this product is the superior ride experience it provides for cyclists - it is designed specifically for this application, with a less aggressive finish compared to high friction surfacing.

It is designed to match the skid resistance of surrounding surfaces such as asphalt so that the change of the surface texture is minimal for the cyclist when riding between asphalt and these coloured areas, significantly reducing the risk of slip related accidents.

It maintains this level of slip resistance, as it is certified for over 55 SRV after 2,000,000 wheel passes when tested to EN 13197. Whilst lead chromate pigments have been removed, engineering enhancements have enabled the system to maintain a high UV stability when tested under accelerated weathering in accordance with EN 1871:00 Annex A, meaning there's limited fading when exposed to sunlight.

With excellent durability, ride experience, and long-term performance certification, it's everything you need to guarantee those upcoming cycle lanes projects will be built to last.

Whilst the road network can be used for multiple vehicles such as cars, buses and bicycles, there is an increased safety risk, and increasing numbers of cyclists would only increase bicycle/vehicle-related accidents.

Cycleways are the answer to reducing this risk and help maintain the flow of both road traffic and cyclists. When these cycleways are situated directly adjacent to the road, the risk of vehicle/cyclist related accidents is still high where there are no physical delineation measures in place.

Introducing cycleway delineation products that provide cyclists safety, forming a physical barrier between the cycleway and road should be considered for sites identified as high safety risk.

Meon's delineation products are manufactured out of Vulcanised Rubber and simply bolted into the surface, which offers a very quick and efficient installation process and can easily be removed if required.

The dividing island is a kerb height unit that provides a continuous barrier between the road and cycleway and is fully customisable in length or shape to suit any project requirements, available in black, grey or red with a unique reflective white edging system for increased visibility at night.

Including delineation bollards in conjunction with the dividing islands are recommended to further enhance the demarcation between cyclitis's and surrounding vehicular traffic. Bollards often include reflective tape and can be installed either by concreting in ground sockets, bolting them directly onto the surface or mounting on top of the dividing island, which provides a very quick and straightforward installation. These posts are manufactured from Vulcanised Rubber, designed to be flexible if impacted, making them safer than rigid steel posts.

If you are undertaking a project involving cycleways, we can assist with the complete package of cycleway markings, surface coatings and delineation units to create safe transport routes for cyclists.

If you want to chat about your active travel program and understand how we can help, then get in touch today on 02392 200 606 or email us at mail@meonuk.com and in the subject add 'Meons active travel schemes'.