By the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, the Welsh Ministers have imposed obligations on local authorities involving the promotion of ‘active travel routes’, these being routes used by walkers, cyclists and those on mobility scooters.
Under the legislation, much of which is yet to come into force, a Welsh local authority will be obliged to publish a map of existing active travel routes, and a map of proposed new active travel routes and improvements to current routes.
By section 7 of the Act, local authorities must, each year, secure that there are new active travel routes, and secure improvements in existing active travel routes.
In the exercise of certain of their highways functions under the Highways Act 1980, the Welsh Ministers and local authorities will have to, so far as practicable, take reasonable steps to enhance provision made for walkers and cyclists.
The Welsh Ministers and local authorities, in exercising their powers under the Act, must do so in a way designed to promote active travel journeys, secure new active travel routes and improvements in existing active travel routes.
This innovative piece of legislation is without equivalent in the rest of the United Kingdom. It remains to be seen whether the rest of the UK will follow suit; however the Act does appear to be a positive contribution to transport policy.