York chosen as the seat of a new government agency – led by Olympic cycling legend Chris Boardman

Olympic cycling gold medalist Chris Boardman will lead a new government agency tasked with improving cycling and walking infrastructure in England.

And his headquarters will be in York.

The Department for Transport has announced that Mr Boardman has been appointed Acting Commissioner of Active Travel England (ATE), which launches today (Saturday).

ATE is responsible for managing the national active travel budget, providing funding for projects that improve health and air quality.

The government has confirmed that the agency will be based in York from the summer. No location for the HQ has been disclosed.

York City Council Leader Keith Aspden said: ‘Confirmation that the Department for Transport’s new active travel team will be based in York, creating new skilled and exciting jobs, is a welcome boost for the city and our job market.

“This is a great vote of confidence in York and our already existing skills in the sector, and follows confirmation that the city will also see several hundred new jobs in Cabinet offices relocated to York Central after months of lobbying.”

“Better places to live”

Active Travel England will approve and inspect active travel schemes and identify motorway failures that are dangerous to vulnerable road users.

The new body will also help disseminate good practices in the design, implementation and public engagement of new infrastructure.

Mr Boardman, who delivered the first phase of Greater Manchester’s active travel system known as the Bee Network, said the positive effects of high levels of cycling and walking are ‘clearly visible in pockets of the country where people were given easy and safe alternatives to driving”.

He continued: “Perhaps most important of all, however, it creates better places to live while helping both the NHS and our decarbonisation mission.

“Now is the time to build on these pockets of best practice and allow the entire nation to move easily and safely through their neighborhoods without feeling like they have to rely on cars.”

The York Cycle Campaign Clean Air Day ride in June this year. Photo: Gareth Buddo

Cllr Aspden added: “York is rightly recognized as one of the best places to live, work and visit in the UK and is renowned for its diverse culture, rich heritage, excellent transport links and booming business.

“York has a lot to offer any relocated office function, especially one that will hopefully see our efforts to make York even greener and cleaner by investing in active and sustainable transportation infrastructure supported by this new team.

“Supporting sustainable transportation in York is key to addressing some of the key challenges facing our city: reducing carbon emissions, congestion and air quality.

“While the creation of new jobs is great news, job relocations alone are not a northern strategy that combines policy and investment for the region. I can’t wait to see the promises made to our city, to our region and to the North, to rise in level, to be kept beyond political slogans.

New diets

The Government today announced an investment of £5.5 million in cycling and walking schemes.

This includes:
– 3 million pounds sterling to strengthen cycling infrastructure around stations.
– £2.2million to explore NHS mandated active travel.
– £300,000 for electric cargo bike initiatives.