Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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Next steps for improving transport accessibility and growing active travel in the UK

March 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on next steps for improving transport accessibility and expanding active travel options.

The discussion takes place with the Government working towards two transport goals for both accessibility and active travel for 2030:

  • walking and cycling - developing infrastructure that facilitates active travel for half of all journeys in urban environments
  • equal access transport - creation of an system that caters fairly for disabled passengers

The agenda looks at:

  • policy priorities - for infrastructure, behavioural change, and equal transport access
  • accessibility - passenger rights, operator responsibilities, and enhancing inclusivity across transport modes
  • enabling active travel - optimising planning and infrastructure to support expansion in walking and cycling
  • public health - the opportunity for improvement in urban areas, and what is needed from policy, industry and local communities
  • innovation - micromobility, new urban transport technology, changing habits, appropriate infrastructure, and adapting the legislative framework

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are already due to attend from DfT; BEIS; Defra; the NAO; the Geospatial Commission; the Joint Air Quality Unit; Ofcom; Transport Scotland; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda

  • Policy priorities for developing active travel and inclusivity - infrastructure, behavioural change, and equal transport access
  • Scaling up transport accessibility - latest thinking on passenger rights, operator responsibilities, and enhancing inclusivity across transport modes
  • Improving support for travellers with visible and hidden disabilities - priorities for infrastructure, provision of assistant services, and rollout across the transport network
  • Seizing the opportunity for active travel to improve urban environments and public health - what is needed from policy, industry and communities to deliver the transition
  • Optimising planning and infrastructure to support expansion in walking and cycling
  • Road reform at a local level - best practice in adapting layout, working with spatial stakeholders, and designing incentive schemes
  • ‘How public transport and active travel together can provide a compelling alternative to car travel’
  • Micromobility, transport options, and new behaviours - the way forward for rolling out innovative urban transport technology, and preparing the infrastructure and legislative framework

Areas for discussion:

  • improving transport inclusivity:
    • funding - options for financial support for physical and non-physical accessibility services
    • passenger rights - including how they can be strengthened, looking at transport operator responsibilities, improving staff awareness, and ensuring equal access to passenger information
    • collaboration - strategies for increasing joint working between policymakers, transport stakeholders and charities
    • public transport - addressing accessibility deficiencies across rail and bus transport, vehicle upgrades, and options for industry obligations on infrastructure improvement
    • locally-led regulation - options for powers relating to vehicle use in pedestrian zones, and for funding accessibility upgrades through changes to parking charging
    • COVID-19 - developing solutions to transport issues presented by the pandemic 
  • widening active travel:
    • raising awareness - looking at practical steps for enhancing the attractiveness and use of walking and cycling in urban environments for the general public
    • supporting public health - examining policy, infrastructure, and behavioural changes required to overcome barriers
    • infrastructure optimisation - strategies for standardising cycle and pedestrian zone design, whilst also accommodating local transport needs and efficiently linking urban transport routes
    • active travel at a local level - new powers for road space reallocation, regional incentive schemes, and developing local engagement to understand the needs of residents
    • accounting for motor vehicles - cycle and road space barriers, creating side street and suburban cycle-only routes, and tackling congestion on main roads 
  • micromobility:
    • latest developments - innovation in mobility services and technologies, supporting growth in the UK, and opportunities for widening the appeal of active travel
    • regulation - options for regulatory frameworks with sufficient flexibility to keep pace with technology change, support innovation, and accommodate different local consents and systems
    • commercialisation - assessing appropriate technologies and business models, including the shared mobility economy
    • removing barriers - identifying opportunities for reducing road congestion, optimising infrastructure and integration into urban transport systems, and road legislation for e-cargo bikes

A scan of relevant developments:

  • The ten point plan for a green industrial revolution - from the PM, including plans to make cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel, and invest in zero-emission public transport
  • national lockdown - with:
    • impact on active travel - with exercise being a key permissible reason for leaving the home, but limited to the local area and once a day
    • increased discussion and reporting around wearing masks outside as well as inside, and areas in which daily exercise is permitted
  • We Belong - the Disability Rights UK campaign, aiming for:
    • greater collaboration between the transport sector and disabled people’s organisations
    • speeding up work to make stations and trains more accessible, and reforming bus services
    • improved staff training, and better support from staff for disabled people
  • the Gear Change strategy - the cycling and walking plan for England launched last year for up to 2030, with key next steps including:
    • expansion of the National Cycle Network
    • strengthening the Highway Code to make streets safer
    • ring-fencing funding for road and infrastructure development
    • and widening the use of locally-led schemes and innovation like e-bikes
  • the Inclusive Transport Strategy - published in 2018, including plans for physical infrastructure readiness across transport modes and stations, improving passenger rights and enforcement, better accommodation for invisible disabilities and the recent progress update on:
    • operator awareness and duties
    • designing new mobility and accessibility options
    • working to improve provisions across maritime and aviation
  • £175m more for cycling and walking as research shows public support - first funding release as part of the £2bn walking and cycling fund, providing support for emergency bike lanes, bike rental schemes, bike repair programmes, and guidance on social distancing design for COVID-19
  • the emergency Active travel fund - aimed at supporting the creation of low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), providing support to local authorities for walking and cycling facilities and guidance on road space modification for local councils and traffic authorities
  • Public attitudes towards traffic and road use - DfT-backed survey finding majority support in England for local measures to reduce road traffic and reallocate road space to active travel
  • forthcoming Transport Decarbonisation Plan - expected this Spring, with a strategic priority being to encourage use of public transport and active travel, and looking at behaviour change
  • regulatory frameworks for micromobility - recent consultations:
    • Future of transport regulatory review - assessing how flexible regulation can be designed to support new technologies, business models, and integration with wider transport networks
    • E-scooter rental trials - concluding that work can begin on e-scooter trials across UK local authorities, but that a definition on e-scooters is required to improve clarity for stakeholders
  • Accessible Technology Research and Innovation Grant (A-TRIG) - from the DfT to support commercialising physical and technological solutions for accessibility
  • Pavement parking: options for change - looking at the feasibility of legislation to improve disability access on streetscapes, and potential scope for new local authority and street planner powers
  • Future of Transport: rural strategy- current consultation, looking at:
    • how transport innovation can affect communities in rural areas
    • issues such as ensuring future changes are inclusive
    • improvements to mobility, accessibility, low carbon transport and integrated transport

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Transport; BEIS; Defra; the DHSC; the National Audit Office; the Geospatial Commission; the Joint Air Quality Unit; Transport Scotland; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government. Also due to attend are representatives from Canal & River Trust; FCP; London Councils; London Forum of Amenity & Civic Societies; Northamptonshire County Council; Oxfordshire County Council; PedalHub; Portsmouth City Council; Possability People; SoulRiders; Transport Focus and UKRI.

A press pass has been reserved by a representative from The Times.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles