DoI Minister Tim Crookall has said he is personally reviewing the island’s Active Travel Strategy.
This came as he also recognised that the purpose of active travel has been muddled since it was first outlined. The basis of these questions had been the replacement of the former railway bridges between St Johns and Kirk Michael for what was termed as active travel.
Mr Crookall was facing questions in Tynwald on the issue, including from Middle MHK Stu Peters who asked: ‘Does the minister agree with me and many taxpayers, that active travel is an option for a few hardy souls, rather than an alternative means of transport for the many as it only benefits a small number of road users whilst the timely maintenance of our road network affects us all and should be given a higher priority?’
In response, the Minister said he recognised that drivers ‘over the last 10 years, probably longer, feel hard done by’. However he added: ‘Active travel is an education, I have to be careful what I’m saying because there are big budgets in here, but I absolutely understand that first and foremost, more people are using the roads now, but we’re on a long journey here with active travel and we need to give people the ability to walk, cycle into work or even during the evenings, weekends and things. But I understand where the Hon Member is coming from.’
Speaker Juan Watterson suggested that while Mr Peter’s original question had been on what cost benefit analysis had been done into the replacement of railway bridges for active travel and highway maintenance, he said there could be a better way of studying the cost benefit analysis of the active travel schemes to see how they would benefit drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
Mr Crookall said: ‘As the member who has taken over the responsibility for highways and active travel in the Dept, I will be reviewing the whole of the active travel process over the next couple of months to see exactly where we are.’
Following a further question from Douglas Central MHK Chris Thomas into whether active travel had become muddled and no longer represented its original aim to encourage people to make ‘regular everyday journeys’ which were originally defined as being within a mile-and-a-half of town centres to enable people to travel to school and work from within populated areas.
Mr Crookall said: ‘I do believe that there is confusion over the active travel and some schemes and things have been thrown into the mix as active travel when really they’re just doing footpaths and things that should not be in there. They are there for everyday things such as walking and hobbies, but that will come into the active travel briefing.’