|David J. Rowlands AC|
|Lee Waters AC|
|Mark Isherwood AC|
|Russell George AC||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Vikki Howells AC|
|Andrea Gordon||Rheolwr Ymgysylltu, Cŵn Tywys Cymru|
|Engagement Manager, Guide Dogs Cymru|
|Dr Julie Bishop||Cyfarwyddwr Gwella Iechyd / Ymgynghorydd Iechyd y Cyhoedd, Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru|
|Director of Health Improvement / Consultant in Public Health, Public Health Wales|
|Dr Tom Porter||Ymgynghorydd mewn Meddygaeth Iechyd y Cyhoedd, tîm iechyd cyhoeddus lleol Caerdydd a'r Fro, Bwrdd Iechyd Lleol Prifysgol Caerdydd a’r Fro|
|Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Cardiff and Vale local public health team, Cardiff and Vale University Local Health Board|
|Elin Edwards||Rheolwr Materion Allanol (Cymru), RNIB Cymru|
|External Affairs Manager (Wales), Royal National Institute of Blind People Cymru|
|Huw Brunt||Ymgynghorydd Arweiniol mewn Iechyd Cyhoeddus Amgylcheddol, Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru|
|Lead Consultant in Environmental Public Health, Public Health Wales|
|Joshua Reeves||Yn cymryd rhan yn y rhaglen Can Do gyda Leonard Cheshire Disability|
|Can Do programme participant with Leonard Cheshire Disability|
|Kevin Rahman-Daultrey||Uwch Swyddog a chydlynydd TG, Pedal Power|
|Senior Officer and IT coordinator, Pedal Power|
|Rhian Stangroom-Teel||Swyddog Polisi a Materion Cyhoeddus (Cymru), Leonard Cheshire Disability|
|Policy and Public Affairs Officer (Wales), Leonard Cheshire Disability|
|Abigail Phillips||Ail Glerc|
|Robert Lloyd-Williams||Dirprwy Glerc|
|1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau||1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest|
|2. Gweithwyr gofal iechyd proffesiynol—Deddf Teithio Llesol (Cymru) 2013—Craffu ar ôl Deddfu||2. Healthcare professionals—Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013—Post-Legislative Scrutiny|
|3. Papurau i'w nodi||3. Papers to note|
|8. Grwpiau anabledd—Deddf Teithio Llesol (Cymru) 2013—Craffu ar ôl Deddfu||8. Disability groups—Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013—Post-Legislative Scrutiny|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:33.
The meeting began at 09:33.
Croeso, bawb, i Bwyllgor yr Economi, Seilwaith a Sgiliau.
Welcome, everyone, to the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee.
I'd like to welcome Members, members of the public and all those watching this morning to the committee.
I'm very grateful for our witnesses joining us this morning. I would be grateful if you could just introduce yourselves for the record.
Sure. Tom Porter, consultant in public health medicine in Cardiff and Vale local public health team.
Julie Bishop, director of health improvement for Public Health Wales.
Good morning. My name's Huw Brunt, and I'm lead consultant in environmental public health, Public Health Wales.
Thank you very much. I should just say we have had apologies this morning from Joyce Watson and Hefin David, and I know that Vikki Howells and Adam Price will be joining us shortly.
This is our second session in regard to our post-legislative scrutiny on the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013. So, we are very grateful to our witnesses for their time this morning. If I could ask the first question: we've seen a big growth in cars, of course, which I expect has impacted on health and well-being. How big an issue do you think that is?
So, if I start off, I think we submitted to the committee this report, which is based on the impacts on Cardiff and the Vale, which are the areas that I cover. Over half of our adults now are overweight or obese—in Cardiff and Vale—and sedentary behaviour is a huge issue. So, we know that around a quarter of adults do less than 30 minutes activity a week, which is really significant. These are people who are, essentially, not moving. The pattern that people have started to get into—that a lot of people are getting into—is that you'll get up in the morning from bed, get into a car, go to work, sit at a desk, come back home, sit on the sofa, go to bed, and your body is really not doing what it needs to do. So, there are huge impacts.
In terms of active travel itself, we know that that then breaks that cycle and has also very positive impact—direct impacts—both on the individual in terms of cardiovascular disease reduction, respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, but wider effects as well.
Perhaps if I can widen the question out as well, on which group of people would it have the most positive impact if they changed their pattern of active travel, or travel to work?
Do you want to carry on?
I think the impact would be beneficial on everyone. The impact is across the board, so everyone would benefit from doing more activity, including active travel. I think the bit that's really interesting to me and I think why there's a huge opportunity here and active travel is so important is that, although there are impacts on the individuals themselves, which is really, really important—the ones I just outlined—there are also wider impacts as well. So, for example, if you have an increased rate of active travel in the community, then even people who aren't doing the active travel will benefit from fewer people in polluting cars, and so the air quality will be better more generally. Also, in order to enable active travel, you need to have better infrastructure, often. And that infrastructure that is more welcoming to walkers and cyclists then has a special impact on groups such as the young, older people, disabled people, where they start to feel welcome in those communities again. So, in terms of the impact, it's across the spectrum, but actually you also feel it more beneficially in particular groups who are currently vulnerable.
I'm just trying to get a feel of what group—you say all groups, potentially—but what is it—younger people or people going to work or older people? What group is most likely to be affected?
As Tom has said, the benefits are felt across the board, but if we think about it from the point of view of where we might make the greatest impact if we intervene or put more effort in, which is perhaps a slightly different way of answering the question—
I think that, obviously, part of this is about establishing patterns for life, and so, inevitably, if we can encourage walking or cycling to school to be the normal way that children get to school—assuming they live within a reasonable distance—then that's going to set patterns not just during their childhood but, potentially, for their lifelong behaviours. So, there are certain groups of the population where we can see that putting our effort in might have a longer term benefit, and that would be the longer term thinking. But I think there are also—you know, thinking about short journeys, which is in essence what we're talking about, we all make short journeys, but certainly those who—. Even older people actually who are not going out to work but perhaps are going to the local shop or going to the local library or other community facilities—trying to make those more active journeys can be particularly beneficial.
Could I add as well that I think that the link to air quality is an important one? Active travel is not just about the benefits reaped by individuals who may do more walking or cycling, but actually fewer car trips made or vehicles on the road mean reduced pollution, and, of course, that has an indirect benefit at both individual and population levels. So, there are those co-benefits there to be taken into account. So, it's not just the benefits for the individual, but it's those indirect ones from reduced pollution and a population perspective too.
I think this question is probably to Tom. I think it's from your written evidence. You pointed to the NICE evidence that £1 invested in cycle routes returns £14 in benefits. I think that was from your evidence. What form do these benefits take?
So, that figure quoted in the report, as you say, is from NICE, so that's obviously a health body. Looking back at the modelling that they used, most of that is around health benefits directly, so in terms of reduced admissions to hospital for respiratory disease, for cardiovascular disease and decreased mortality, but what they do note in their modelling is that it's very difficult for them, in terms of the scope of that original piece of work, to look at the wider benefits, and we do know that there are wider benefits as well as just the health benefits. So, the first thing, obviously, is that those conditions that I just mentioned often turn into long-term conditions, which then have an impact in later life around long-term care, social care and so on. But there are wider benefits of active travel too to the community. So, we know that you tend to get more jobs in areas where you've got walkability and increased active travel, and increased visitors, tourism and positive impacts on social isolation and social cohesion. So, that quantifies some of the benefits around health, but we know there are much wider benefits as well.
In terms of potential savings in the future, has there any work been done on how much potential saving there is for health boards, perhaps in the future, as a result of investment now?
I think it's difficult to put it in terms of savings. We know that the population, especially where we are, in Cardiff, is increasing a lot anyway, and we've got many more people with multiple conditions, so it's probably a slow-down of increase rather than a saving. But, as I said, we know that there are lots of other impacts elsewhere as well.
One of the key things around active travel is that it impacts on so many different bits of society, so many different people, so many different organisations, that it kind of needs to be taken in the round. So, bodies such as the public services boards, the PSBs, in each area, under the future generations Act, are actually really helpful to have that kind of holistic view of the impacts and the requirements around active travel.
Can I just follow up on something that Huw Brunt said about the link between air quality and traffic volumes? Traditionally, the way of dealing with that is to increase road capacity by building bypasses or whatever due to the air quality. I'm just wondering what your view is on that approach.
A significant proportion of our air pollution is emitted by road transport, not just cars but other vehicles as well. I think that, historically, we have tried to increase the capacity of roads so that we can get more vehicles using them, but, of course, that's not sustainable, and what we need to do here, especially when we're talking about health and well-being, is make sure that we're doing everything that we can to reduce those levels of pollution, and one key way of doing that is to reduce the number of vehicles. Of course, a huge part of the puzzle here, and a big solution, is the form of active travel, as well as some of those longer journeys that may incorporate different modes of travel as well—more sustainable and low and zero-emission travel. So, I think we need to change our way of thinking to make sure that we're not just trying to solve a symptom of the problem. We need to look at the cause, and I think this is one particular example and one way of doing it—an effective way of doing it.
I suppose the challenge is, by increasing road capacity to take—for example a contemporary example is the Llandeilo bypass. It's a very congested area. The reduction in road traffic, using the measures you discuss in your paper, would take some time, whereas building a bypass reduces the immediate air quality threat. So, what would you say in those sorts of circumstances?
It may have an immediate impact in terms of easing traffic congestion, but, actually, it has the potential to just shift the problem to a different area. So, there is this issue of displacement—you're not actually tackling the root cause of the problem. And if we were able to implement successful and effective interventions, to make sure that we are reducing the number of vehicles on our roads, then that, in turn, is going to improve air quality, as well as the indirect benefits from active travel and other benefits as well. So, that is a win-win, but it is, as you say, a longer term solution.
So, just to be clear, you don't think that building bypasses should be one of the tools we use to improve air quality.
I think it should be part of the consideration of a whole range of different solutions for these problems. Each of the problems that we are experiencing, certainly with air quality in different parts of Wales, will all need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. They will all be unique, have their own different local characteristics, so it's certainly up there to be considered, but alongside all these other interventions as well.
Can we bear down a little bit on probably the most important aspect of the whole thing, which is the impact of the active travel Act in Wales and whether the Act delivered on its promise, given the Public Health Wales comment that
'it has yet to achieve the scale and impact required to shift population behaviours',
'there has been no change',
in active travel rates,
'since the introduction of the Act'?
Actually, the figures we have bear out that there's been a negative change, particularly amongst children walking to school, et cetera, where fewer are now doing it than when the Act came in. So, do you believe that it is working, or where do you think—?
We agree. I think the direction of travel around active travel is unfortunately not in the right direction at the moment. I think these are really complicated problems. There are lots of different things, as Huw's already said, that are actually going to make a difference, and what's in the Act is part of the solution. On its own, it probably was never going to fix the problem, so when we're thinking about, perhaps, the wider ambition, which is to get more people using active travel as a means of getting from A to B, looking at the Act in isolation is only part of that conversation. And what we perhaps haven't done—. Because we, perhaps, had the Act, that's where the focus has been, rather than maybe looking in the round at all of the other things that actually were needed, because the Act itself has tended to focus effort around the mapping exercises locally, and the production of maps, and the duties that were placed on local authorities, which is no doubt probably a beneficial thing to be doing, but that in itself isn't going to bring about the solution. I think one of the things that perhaps we've touched on already is that the normal thing to do in this country is to travel by car. That is a massive social norm, and changing that behavioural norm, so that we don't think about the car being the primary means of transport for short journeys is something we haven't really got to grips with, and that's probably the missing component.
Turning to the mapping process, which is actually at the heart of the implementation of the Act, we've heard in previous evidence sessions that the whole process hasn't been that good. The engagement of local authorities, et cetera, is very patchy, as such, and the quality of what they've submitted has been quite patchy. So, what are your views on the effectiveness of the mapping process for both the existing route-maps and the integrated network maps? Were you actually consulted with regard to those maps by local authorities?
If I can pick up—. Again from my own local experience, I think the process has actually worked reasonably well, and picking up on what Julie said, I think the intention behind the Act is absolutely right, and it's a necessary part of what we're trying to achieve, but it's not necessarily sufficient. So, where you've got local authorities that are already enthusiastic around active travel—and we're lucky to be an area that has got a lot of opportunity around that and potential around the Cardiff city region deal and so on—stuff was already happening, and it's very difficult to say in retrospect how much of that has changed because of the Act, or whether it would have happened anyway, but I think the process has been relatively effective, and we have been consulted as stakeholders in that, as well as, perhaps, the local population too.
I guess where the implementation falls down is that it's nice to have maps and it's nice to have it where you're trying to get to, and obviously the spirit of the Act is that incremental improvements are made every year towards that, but it's about the speed of that implementation. It's no secret that, across the public sector, there is a squeeze on funding. Everyone is finding it difficult to get funding, and so to be able to implement, in a timely way, those plans, is really where the barrier is now, certainly in terms of the infrastructure side, and as Julie says, it's wider than just infrastructure. But the infrastructure side, yes.
I mean, the other very important aspect of implementing the Act is, of course, the infrastructure. Cardiff and Vale university board notes the importance of improved active travel. Has the Act been effective in increasing the amount and quality of routes and facilities since 2013?
I'd refer back to the previous comment. So, I think, yes, we've seen improvements locally within Cardiff and Vale, but it's difficult to say whether those are as a result of the Act or not. There are certainly a lot of very promising plans in place, and now it's how we move on to speed up those plans.
Yes, it's essential, yes. Speaking to colleagues, again, across the public sector, I think everyone—. We're very lucky in Cardiff and the Vale that we have a lot of sign-up across our public services board to this. I think everyone is agreed this is a really critical issue, both from an active travel perspective, but also from an air quality perspective. But one of the barriers, certainly around infrastructure, is around the speed of implementation, because of funding.
Fine. Just on that again. Local authorities seem to be holding back on their ambitions with regard to the maps, and much of that, apparently, is down to the fact that there's not set funding in place for them. So, their ambitions were muted by that aspect of it. Do you think that that's the case, in your opinion?
From my experience in conversations locally, certainly that's the case, that the funding is a key issue. This may stray into a later point, but I think that one of the other barriers related to funding is around where those funding streams are available. So, if you look at, for example within health, we have health board capital projects and proposals going ahead, and it's how we can get across Welsh Government, across the different policy arenas, access to funding that really needs to play into all of these areas. So this shouldn't be just a local authority funding issue. Actually, if we are building a particular healthcare centre, we need to be able to make sure we can get relevant funding for the relevant active travel infrastructure around that and into the local area. So, how can health access those funds? How can local authorities access health funds around this? So, it's having a broader accessibility and awareness around the different funding streams available—
And there are cross-border issues with this as well, with funding, aren't there, which don't seem to have been—?
And I think there's probably also the potential of—. Retrofitting existing infrastructure is incredibly expensive, and that is going to take some time. We are probably not being as forward thinking as perhaps we could have been with new infrastructure, with new housing developments, with new planning areas to make sure that there is a requirement rather than just a consideration of these factors.
So, here's your opportunity to tell us now how you feel that changes ought to be made, either to the Act itself or the implementation process—
If I could refer to a point that was raised earlier around this being part of a solution to multiple problems, really, the whole ethos here is around integrating policy. So, you mentioned funding. I don't think we need to get hung up talking about funding specifically through the active travel Act. We need to be working in different ways, considering more innovative ways of doing things. The air quality agenda's certainly got profile at the moment. There are issues going on with planning developments, planning policy developments and transport infrastructure. As Tom mentioned, I think what we need to do is to consider active travel in the round. I think that if we are able to look at opportunities and to work in different ways, more innovative ways, to identify and seize those opportunities for funding then we should do so, because it's all part of the same picture—the bigger picture.
Obviously, we've been very supportive of the introduction of health impact assessments, which is one of the provisions that's—it's already there for major infrastructure developments, but also within the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017 that's recently been passed. That provides an excellent opportunity to take that rounded view, so that you're actually thinking about any kind of development or any kind of change in the community, not just from a single perspective but much more broadly. And things like active travel are a really good example of where you can look at that differently. It could be that somebody is building a new school or, as Tom has said, there's some sort of health development or somebody's just building some new houses. The whole issue about making sure that the infrastructure creates the community that we actually want to see—and that's one in which people can come together; they can not just travel about by car—is a fundamental part of that process. So, we've got some of the levers; we're probably just not making the greatest use of them.
Just one follow-up to that. There's a reluctance in the Government to ring-fence money, as you're probably aware. I suppose you can understand that, because you could get funds very fragmented if that happens. Do you think that they ought to look at ring-fencing money for this?
I think we've probably all experienced the consequences of ring-fenced funding, and sometimes that's helpful and sometimes it's not. It can stifle some of the innovative solutions that Huw was talking about. I think the solution is actually to focus on outcomes rather than inputs, and money is an input and these processes we're talking about are all inputs. If we are clear about the outcomes that we want to achieve, and we've got a number of outcome frameworks, actually, in Wales now—and that's been one of the changes—. If Government is saying to public bodies and others, 'What we want you to deliver is these kinds of outcomes for the population' and that's what we're monitored on, that's actually what matters, not what goes in in order to deliver it. If we're held accountable collectively for those outcomes, which is the principle and the spirit around the public services boards particularly, then it's not about, 'It's health's responsibility to do that with that pot of money', or 'It's the local authority's responsibility to do this with this pot of money'; everybody is responsible for achieving those outcomes. So, it's probably that kind of shift that we need.
I would agree with that, and also with the difficulties around ring-fencing, but I do think that if you look at the totality of funding, wherever that comes from—whichever pot that's from—if we've really got a large ambition around this, which we need to have for all the reasons we've outlined, then there needs to be an increase in the funding. Whether that's ring-fenced or not, actually the total level of funding that goes into building schemes, infrastructure and behaviour change needs to be higher.
Thank you. We've got about 20 minutes left and we've got four sections to cover. So, that's about five minutes per section, perhaps, if we're a bit sharper on questions and answers. Mark Isherwood.
Thank you. In the evidence we received, the general response has been that action to change behaviour and promote active travel has been limited. Therefore, how effectively do you believe that the duty imposed on local authorities and the Welsh Government to promote active travel is working?
I think, from our perspective, it's that element of—I would describe it as behaviour change rather than promotion, that actually hasn't perhaps been given the attention that's needed. So, we've had a lot of focus on infrastructure, and infrastructure is one way of promoting behaviour change. You need to give people the opportunity to change their behaviour, not just try and motivate them to do it. But we probably haven't been quite as focused on looking at the other aspects of helping people to change their behaviour, one of which would be actually making them want to. You can build a cycle path, but it doesn't mean to say people will use it. So, it's joining up those different areas of working that probably is where we've got the potential to improve. So, I think it's recognised that it's part of it, and the plans describe behaviour changes as a component. But the sorts of activities that have gone on to date probably haven't used the latest knowledge of behaviour change science, or been sufficiently at scale in their implementation to bring about a difference.
If that's okay. I was going to say: I think culture change is essential. There is this concept of path dependency where the whole of our culture is ingrained around car use, and to make that change we require large inputs. I think the one thing we mustn't underestimate is public sector leadership in this. So, in our area, 30 per cent of the workforce in Cardiff are public sector employees. If we could change even the commuting behaviour of a good deal of those employees, that would be a huge impact on the local system around active travel. So, we need to show leadership, and I think we also need to change the culture away from car driving being an efficient way of getting around and the most efficient way. We need to say, 'Actually, if you are an active traveller, then you are more productive. There's evidence saying that you're more productive and you have fewer sick days.' So, actually, there are benefits to employees here. It's how we start to change that conversation around from car driving being seen as the default norm.
Other than public sector leadership, what other steps do you believe could be taken to remove the barriers to effective promotion?
There are lots of barriers to why people don't travel actively, and safety is probably one of the biggest ones. When you read any kind of research that's ever done, whether it's about parents allowing their children to walk to school, or whether it's about whether people cycle, it's safety fears that often stop that happening. So, again, that's about thinking about other kinds of levers. We've talked about infrastructure being part of that, but we've also had some proposals. We have to think seriously about things like speed limits. Reducing speed limits, particularly in residential areas, is likely to make people feel safer, is likely to enable more people to walk and cycle. So, there are a whole range of things that we need to be thinking about quite creatively in terms of overcoming those barriers, because there isn't going to be a magic bullet here. It's lots of different actions that are going to bring about change.
Do you have something to say?
No, I've got nothing to say.
I was just going to say: I think the other bit is that there's public sector leadership in terms of our staff, but also in terms of the consistent messages we give to the public. If you think about the number of interactions people have with public services throughout their lives, we know that the times when people are most responsive to a change in their travel mode are the big life events, so, things like when they become parents, when children are born, when children go to school, when people change jobs, when people retire. We have inputs at all of those stages, usually, from the public services. So how do we start to corral almost that capacity that we have across the public services into a consistent message that supports people at those stages?
You mentioned finance being a barrier. To what extent could that be better addressed by recognising that, for instance, change management delivered culturally costs nothing—it's just a way of doing things differently—and that there are networks outside the public sector that can share the role in sharing information through their existing channels?
I think that's absolutely true. These kinds of complex problems require everybody to be involved, and very often those informal networks are very much more effective than formal ones. We're talking, as we've already said, about changing the norms in a society, and the sort of behaviours we adopt are generally—the biggest influence on that is the people around us. So, our peers, our families—those are the networks that are actually going to bring about change. Therefore, that makes sense that you need to use those networks. To actually influence through those networks is probably going to be a lot more effective than sometimes what professionals say, governments say, or anybody else. So, we need to be helping people to understand that this is actually a good thing to do, and there are multiple benefits, but we need to recognise that we are all quite—. I think for anybody who lives in a major city, including this one, it's very hard to imagine in the morning during the commute that going by car is the easiest way to get from A to B, because you just sit and do nothing most of the time. But people still do it. So, we're really trying to shift a powerfully ingrained behaviour.
One very quick and one quite quick question, then I'll finish. Public Health Wales refers to its work on the active travel to school programme. The latest figures we've got from the Welsh Government show a reduction in primary school children walking to school and for secondary it's pretty much flatlining. Is that because of, as you mentioned, safety, for example, or weather, or is that also a factor of the closure of community schools and people having to use buses or cars to travel miles to a different community to access their school?
In some local areas, the closure of smaller schools and creating larger schools is almost certainly going to have had an impact, but that's probably not explaining the population-level across-Wales figures. All of the evidence that we've seen is that it's generally about safety, and it's just becoming more and more normal for that to be the thing to do. One of the reasons that we picked up this as an area to work on in the last year or so was because we recognised that it was a really important driver of children's physical activity—all of the research shows that—that it was going in the wrong way, and that's not helpful, but also that there were lots of different agencies working on the issue, but completely independently of one another. So, we weren't making the best impact of all of the things that we were all collectively doing. It's a really good example, I think, of where even with perhaps—. There will be a resource question; there's no question about that, but even with the resources that we've got, if we get our act together a little bit better, then we should be able to achieve more.
Disability Wales said communication is one of the three main access barriers disabled people face. Guide Dogs and RNIB Cymru have highlighted local case study work they've done, for instance in Rhondda Cynon Taf, over the shared access issues and the barriers that visually impaired people face, and that building this into the design can overcome the problems, or help reduce the problems as they develop. Public Health Wales, in your evidence as well, said there's a great deal of activity undertaken by local authorities and third sector organisations, largely working in isolation from each other. How can we address this?
I think that's really what I was hinting at just now—that we've got mechanisms, we've got public services boards at a local level, we've got the active travel board and other partnerships at a national level. It is about sitting down and thinking, 'How can everybody play a part in achieving this?' But also I think that can be helped by Government in terms of when it is providing funding, that part of the way in which the funding is provided recognises the need to work across organisations rather than funding this body to do that and that body to do something else.
In terms of the behavioural change that's needed, who should lead on that? Should it be Public Health Wales? Should it be other health professionals?
Well, we've certainly got expertise in that arena, so we'd certainly be willing to play a bigger role. I think we've probably not been—. That's partly our fault, and I think it's partly that perhaps it has not been recognised that we could play a part in that process to date. So, we have picked that up as a priority and recognised it's somewhere we can make a better effort—certainly, I think, in terms of helping to make sure that the work that's happening is drawing on the best available international evidence and using the best methods and, probably most importantly, I think, from our point of view, properly evaluated. When I was preparing for this, it was quite hard to find evaluations of the outputs of some of the things that have been done so that we could even draw a conclusion about whether or not they might work.
So, you think Public Health Wales should take the lead in behavioural change.
We think that we should help Government, certainly, at that level, yes.
Well, we can provide expertise, yes.
If I could just add here—. Behaviour change we've talked a lot about. There are different levels, aren't there? If we're talking about behaviour change within the public—changing cultures, changing the way that we all live our lives—then that is a very different thing to actually changing behaviour of a system of all public bodies or others within a system. And I think that we all as agencies and organisations have a duty and a role to champion and be the lead within the system, but, actually, changing the behaviour amongst the population and individuals within the population is a very different thing.
I know that Public Health Wales has very positively supported the principle of co-production, so to what extent should that leadership role effectively be facilitating co-productive approaches so that the population as a whole is sharing the challenge and the ownership of the solution?
'Yes' is the short answer.
Thank you. Can I say that the Cardiff and Vale annual report of the director of public health is an excellent piece of work? It's a very clear synthesis of the evidence that's been available. How much do you think it applies to the whole of Wales, or is it particular to Cardiff and Vale's circumstances?
Shall I start off? I edited the report, so thank you for that. I think a lot of the challenges are universal. In fact, they're probably not just Wales—they're probably the whole of the developed world, actually, a lot of these issues. Some of the solutions in there are more based around a metropolitan and commuter belt situation, so I think it would apply definitely to south Wales and the M4 corridor, but I think any semi-urban area they apply to. Certainly, within the Vale we've still got very rural bits as well. The issues are common across the board. Some of the specific solutions in there will be more metropolitan area focused.
Because it's quite clear that you have a very clear view of a set of solutions based on the evidence of what you think will be effective to address this. And these are the sort of solutions that have been knocking around for some time. Why do you think the public health community has been so ineffective at influencing other parts of the public sector to take this up?
I think that there are 101 issues, aren't there, that we're all trying to deal with, and I think it takes time, effort and capacity to be able to start to get some momentum behind issues. I know that public health have been championing this for a while, but I think because of a number of different opportunities that have come up and a number of different issues that have come up recently, there seems to be a bit of a head of steam around this at the moment. So, I do think, coming back to the legislative context—the active travel Act, the well-being of future generations Act, the environment Act; all of these things coming together to actually start to build a picture, as well as some of the legal issues around air quality and the issues that we're seeing there—they start to come together to say, 'This is really a problem we cannot ignore any more; we really need to get behind this and do something around this.'
It strikes me that there's a real disconnect between the policy evidence, which is clear and has been consistent for some time, and then the practice, which, obviously, you have no direct control over. So, for example, last week we heard evidence from engineers, and it's all very well saying that the NICE evidence says this, but when the people who are controlling the practical things that are going to give effect to this are working from the design manual for roads and bridges when they shouldn't be, and not from the active travel design guidance, that really in practice is what's going to make a difference to all this stuff. So, my question, really, is a challenge to your professions, given that we talk about obesity being a public health epidemic—now these are strong words; they mean something: what more can you do to shout 'Fire, fire' at the other parts of the system to make sure that change happens, rather than simply lament the lack of progress?
Again, can I just come in at a local level? I agree entirely, and the reason I mentioned the future generations Act is that I do think there is a unique opportunity around the public services board now. We've got a collection of responsible local public sector organisations that we can get agreement on that this is a key priority, and that's happened. My role is a public health role, but I'm now working in partnership with Cardiff council, across the PSB, with all the organisations, looking at how can we tackle this and actually start to implement some of the things in that action plan. So, I do think it's a role for the partnership in each local area to start taking forward. I think public health should be a key part of that.
Okay, so let's move on to that, then. Are they any cop, these public health boards?
Sorry; I didn't hear that.
I think it's very early days in the PSB world. I think there's a lot of difference across Wales about how they're coming together. Certainly, within Cardiff and the Vale, we're starting to see some really strong plans. I think it's too early to say how effective they will be when implemented, but there is certainly a lot of enthusiasm and energy around this agenda at the moment. So, it's too early to say, but I'm hopeful.
Okay. Well, that's not the most encouraging of answers. The active travel board that Public Health Wales sit on—you've said in your evidence that you don't think the membership of that is right. We've heard evidence from Sustrans who agree with that, and they also say they think it should be reconstituted as an independent body with a publicly appointed chair. What do you think about that suggestion?
I think with all of these things, it depends what we want it to do. And I think probably our reflection is that we're not 100 per cent sure. So, is it a holding-people-to-account process—
I think there is value if you're looking for leadership, you're looking for a focus and advocacy, and I think some of the conversation we've had today is that amongst a range of priorities sometimes this one is drowned out by others—that having a more independent advisory mechanism that holds everybody to account, to some extent, can have value. But other mechanisms can work effectively as well. We've talked about the PSBs as a means to co-ordinate action locally, but we also need mechanisms for bringing bodies together at a national level to make sure there's similar co-ordinated action, and that policy areas are aligned. So, there's the potential for the active travel board to also have that role, and I think, probably in our response, that's the sort of angle we were seeing, and that's why we were saying probably if you see it as a body that's about advocacy and holding to account, then the current membership is actually probably quite helpful.
We need both of them, I think, is what I'm trying to say. So, it might be that one board doesn't do both. So, maybe there is a mechanism that's needed that considers how you've got that more independent holding-to-account process going on from one perspective, but also having a mechanism that genuinely brings together the people who are in control of all of these different pots of money, and—
We have to come up with recommendations, so it would be very helpful if you could be clear about what you think should happen. So you think there should be a new body that is separate—I don't want to put words in your mouth, I'm just trying to summarise what you're saying—and that would be independent and would hold to account—?
From our point of view, our evidence was that the first thing we think is needed is a more effective board or programme mechanism that brings together the different policy areas and sectors that play a role in creating the conditions in which people become more active, to make sure that this joined-up policy we've talked about is actually happening. We didn't put it in our evidence, but I can see that there may also be a role for some sort of mechanism for providing an advocacy to Government or holding-to-account mechanism. We haven't given that any particular consideration, but I can also see that there may be value in that.
You see, the thing I'm struggling with, with your evidence, is that you tell us about what's out there and the need for urgent change, but when it comes to clear direction from you for doing things differently, you're hedging your bets over several different answers. And, with respect, does it not fall to you, having gathered this evidence, as public health professionals, knowing the public health impacts of carrying on as we are, to take a stronger leadership role in demanding and leading change?
Yes, probably. I think—
You're asking me a specific question about a specific measure, and what I'm saying is—
I can appreciate that. We're absolutely in agreement with you that something has to happen differently. In terms of the specific mechanism of whether or not an independent advocacy process, holding-to-account process, would make a difference—. We work very much on evidence. We haven't looked at that one in terms of whether or not that is likely to make a difference.
No, absolutely not.
You need to bring about change as a result of the evidence, and it seems to me, from the experience I've had, and the evidence you've given, that you're stronger on the academic bit than you are on pursuing change through the system.
I'd like to say that, from a Cardiff and Vale perspective, I'd like to think that we are pushing that. I am going around, I'm challenging existing activity, and saying this needs to be a priority. I think we're getting the message through and I think there's a head of steam around it now. So, I would say that I think we are leading on this locally, in Cardiff and the Vale—
And I would agree—I would agree entirely, and this is the message that—. We're having these conversations within the health board and more widely, and as I've already said to the committee, I think there is a huge culture change we need to make and that starts within the public services. I don't think anyone has said that we've got it right yet, but I'm hoping, and I am talking to people and we are starting to get commitments. So, we've had a commitment across the public services board for all of the organisations to agree a target for changes to staff mode of travel over the next three years. So, we're now working out what that means and what the action plans are behind it. So, I do think we're taking a leadership role and I think that's our role to take.
Thank you, Chair. My questions are around integrating the active travel with wider policy areas and that's been a thread of the discussion already, but specifically looking at the comments that Public Health Wales have made about the commitment to health in all policies and the introduction of health impact assessments—you clearly see that there's a potential to strengthen the implementation of the Act through that. I just wonder if you'd be able to give us a bit more detail about how you think that could actually work.
I think, as we've explained, this is about system change and without that policy integration I don't think we're going to have the capability to bring about that change in practice. My field of interest is in air quality, so the opportunity is there with all of the—certainly the legislative change—the proposals of Welsh Government to move on the air quality work. There's a lot of chance there to make sure that we embed active travel as a major solution to some of those problems, and health in all policies is exactly that. We just need to make sure that the health and well-being bit is not forgotten, but that it is firmly embedded in those policies and those practices that have an impact.
Linked to that is, of course, the bigger-picture issues around planning and around infrastructure and transport. Unless we bring all of those together, and health and well-being as a core consideration in those, then we will miss opportunities.
Is this something that you've worked with the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales on as well? I'm just thinking about how policy areas could be tied up here.
Just coming back to our local example, I've had conversations with the future generations commissioner's office about how some of the work we're doing in Cardiff around linking up everything locally—all the different organisations in the PSB—we could start to use as an exemplar across the rest of Wales. That's in its early stages, but I absolutely think that having those different organisations around the table is very helpful and if that could be mirrored at a national, Welsh Government policy level as well, so that there are conversations and consistent policy across those departments—. I think everyone is independently trying to do the right thing, but there's strength and additional value if it's all done together.
Okay, thank you. We are over time, but Lee Waters has the last section.
Yes, just a couple of brief questions on funding, if I might. Cardiff and the Vale, in your annual report, you refer to the UK faculty of public health calling for 10 per cent of transport budgets to be committed to walking and cycling. Is that something you endorse?
Yes, absolutely, and if you look at wider evidence from examples elsewhere, I think that's probably the minimum, so 10 per cent to 15 per cent, if not more—
Not specifically, but I—
It's not something that we've actively considered, but I don't think we would have any problem with adopting that.
I think, as Tom has said before, we have to tackle a wide range of population health challenges, of which this is one. So, just because something hasn't been put forward for consideration and adopted as a policy recommendation from the organisation doesn't mean to say that it's not important; it just means that there have been other things that are also important.
But, forgive me, your evidence is saying that this isn't just about one public health issue—it's related to a whole range of others. So, on the one hand you're saying that this is a keystone for a whole range of public health interventions, but now you're saying it's just one.
I think that, when we look at the burden of disease of the population and the things that make the biggest impact, there's a list of risk factors that we can do something about, okay? And at the moment in Wales, the No. 1 on that is tobacco; the second on the list is a whole range of things to do with our diet and being overweight, and alcohol is a big player, and then physical activity is on that list. So, from our perspective, we have, if you like, been putting our focus on that agenda, and we're at the point now where physical activity is rising to the top of the agenda in terms of the area where we need to make the next big change. That's why we're picking it up as a major focus in terms of the work we're doing with Sport Wales and Natural Resources Wales overall on physical activity and active travel, and becoming much more active in this area as part of it.
So, we recognise we've not been there in the past, but we've certainly put additional resources into this area in the last 12 months, and we've started to take a leadership role, and it's my intention that we continue to do that. You'll see it featuring very strongly in our new 10-year strategic plan that's being finalised at the moment. So, I think we can, if you like, be criticised for perhaps not having been more vocal on these issues in the past, but I can give you an assurance that that won't be the case in the future.
And given the weight of the evidence, that funding is actually crucial to making this happen, I think it would be helpful if you took a view on that and came back to us with it, perhaps.
Certainly, I'd be happy to do that.
Just finally on the funding, inevitably there are turf wars on these things. The Welsh Local Government Association has said, as you might expect, in their evidence to us that they think that, because of the health benefits, some of the funding for this should come from within health budgets. Do you have a view on that?
We're in a period of austerity. Every single public sector body is struggling with money, and I think, probably, our view would be that squabbling amongst ourselves about who should pay for what is probably not actually the solution to the problem. What we've set out today, I think very clearly, is that, at the highest possible level, having a healthy population benefits every part of society, and when you ask the public, it's absolutely important to them, and prevention is important to them. So, I think the public view would be that, collectively, we're responsible for doing something about this, and all of the—. And I think the policy and the mechanisms that we have in place in Wales—Tom's talked about the well-being of future generations Act and a whole range of other things—the spirit is very much about collective action rather than trying to look at who's paying for what.
Just very quickly, one of the things that's been mentioned here about the Act is that it's to lower pollution levels, and then we've brought in the fact of lowering speed limits. Now, the truth of the matter is, of course, if you lower speed limits, cars are going to be using much lower gears, and that exacerbates pollution levels rather than—.
Yes. There is some evidence to suggest that the air pollution impacts associated with a reduced speed limit are mixed. You can have an increase in some pollutants versus a decrease in others. Overall, the air quality impacts are positive. So, if I take a couple of—
I really can't see that when you're driving around in second gear you're going to use less fuel than you are at—. It must increase, obviously.
For certain pollutants, such as particulate matter, the reduction in speed will reduce acceleration and deceleration, so there will be a reduction in some pollutants, like particulate matter, but there may be an increase in nitrogen dioxide, for example. But, overall, the air quality impact is a positive one from a reduction in speed limits. But, of course, air quality is just one of the issues here.
There's a whole host of others around safety, community cohesion, letting people feel safe and that their well-being and quality of life has improved. So, air quality may not be the primary focus, but the benefits appear to outweigh the disbenefits.
To follow up on Lee's last point about the WLGA's call for reallocation, isn't the solution better represented by what the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 intended, which was to encourage and enable statutory budget pooling? And where the most effective models of co-production on a local level have occurred, it's where local authorities and NHS locally have pooled budgets to deliver programmes with communities.
Probably. I think there are good examples of pooling budgets, and it's one of the mechanisms. I think that with all of these kinds of challenges, I think we've said several times in our evidence that there is never going to be one solution that's going to work in all cases and for all examples. But I think we are absolutely of the view that working together and using whatever mechanism is appropriate at the time is almost certainly the solution, and that includes communities and statutory public sector bodies and third sector bodies and probably private sector organisations collectively tackling an issue.
Can I thank you all for your time this morning? We're very grateful. You will receive a transcript of the proceedings over the next couple of days—please do check that as well. We are grateful for your time with us this morning. Diolch yn fawr. Thank you.
I move to item 3. There are a number of papers to note. Are Members happy to note those papers? Yes. Good. In that case, we'll take a short break. [Interruption.] Yes, Lee.
Perhaps this is best discussed under the private business, Chair. I'll take your lead on this. But in terms of the letter we've had from the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee on digital, is now the best time to tackle that, or would you rather discuss that later?
Just to reinforce the discussion we've had previously around our forward work programme. The letter from Nick Ramsay passing on the correspondence from Tracey Burke I think does highlight the issues we've been discussing about the inadequacy around school provision around digital and around coding, and I think those should be incorporated in our broader work that we're considering around digital.
I know we've got a session coming up to discuss our forward work programme after the summer break. I think we could certainly discuss that then.
Thank you. With that, we'll take a short 10-minute break. We'll be back at 10.35 a.m.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:26 a 10:37.
The meeting adjourned between 10:26 and 10:37.
If I could welcome all back to the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee, I do move to item 8, in regard to our post-legislative scrutiny of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013. If I could look at the witnesses now and ask if they could just introduce themselves for the public record. If I could start with my left, Andrea.
It's Andrea Gordon for Guide Dogs Cymru.
Elin Edwards for RNIB Cymru.
Kevin Rahman-Daultrey, and I'm with Cardiff Pedal Power.
Joshua Reeves, disability campaigner, and I'm with the Leonard Cheshire Can Do project.
Rhian Stangroom-Teel from Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Thank you, and don't feel you all have to, obviously, answer every question that Members put; some will lead on certain sections, I'm sure. But if I could ask a question to start with, a fairly wide question: what are the barriers to active travel for disabled people? It's a very wide question, I know.
So—. Does anyone want to go?
So, there are a lot of barriers. It depends on what barriers you're looking for. For one in particular, there are not enough dropped kerbs. That's a major barrier for me, as I basically live in Cardiff, and in Grangetown and in Leckwith there are a lot of kerbs and pavements, but the biggest tricky thing for me is that I get on a pavement, then it leads me right to the end, and then I see either a car parked on the flat dropped kerb, or either they have a massive kerb, which I have to go right back off there to then get back onto the—. So, I have to get onto the road to get back onto the other side of the pavement, really, and it's just ridiculous. I think that this needs to be changed, especially for people who do need flat and dropped kerbs. I just think that, if there are a lot of cars on the road and stuff, I don't assume you're expecting me to go on the road to get to the other side.
No, I understand. I can understand that position. Would anyone else like to speak? Kevin. Then I'll come to Andrea after. Kevin.
Coming obviously from an adaptive cycling perspective, so talking mostly about that, the infrastructure currently is being built for two-wheeled cycles. So, when you look at even your cycle parking, your cycle lanes, how that is developed and designed, even under the active travel Act, it's very often not including the weird and wonderful bikes that actually exist and that people need to utilise. In Cardiff alone, we have 1,600 disabled cyclists who would love to use the infrastructure if it was there, and it simply isn't. Perfect examples are things like the fact that, as part of cycling infrastructure, you'll often find areas where they'll ask a cyclist to dismount. You can't dismount if you're on a hand bike or if you're on an adaptive trike. So, it's things like that, and often it's just not part of the consideration around planning and engineering when they're coming to design the routes and the infrastructure for cycling. So, often, you can have—again, dropped kerbs are a perfect example. A two-wheeled bike can get down a kerb; often, three wheels can't. So, things like that can often be a big issue.
Well, only to say that we actually think that the design guidance was very good, but the problem seems to be in the implementation. So, our particular concerns are around where footways are divided between pedestrians and cyclists just by a white line, because that's not perceptible to blind and partially sighted people, and we're as much of a danger to cyclists as they can be to us. So, we regard the pavement generally as being a safe space to be, but if we're not aware—. I wouldn't know of a white line, and nor would many people with sight loss, so it's really quite dangerous then for everybody on that footway. Within the active travel guidance, the design guidance, it does recommend that routes are properly either separated or demarcated. That just isn't happening.
Thank you. Just to echo that we'd support all of what's been raised before. It's that design of the built environment that is going to determine if someone who is blind or partially sighted is able to walk that route safely and independently. Some of the things we've already touched on that create those obstacles—. But it's worth pointing out as well that RNIB did some research in 2015 that showed that 95 per cent of blind and partially sighted people had collided with an obstacle in the street, and a third of those had gone on to suffer injury, and that was just within a three-month window. In addition to what we've touched on, the dropped kerbs, inaccessible crossings, things like parking on pavements, advertising boards out in the streets, bins, overgrown shrubbery, street and cafe furniture, all of those really are—. Once you have a collision with those, it's going to impact on your confidence as an individual to get out and keep using the active travel routes.
I've got a whole load of questions, but I'm not going to ask them because I know that I'm going to be treading on the toes of some of the other Members who've got questions relating to what you said later on in the session, but thank you. Rhian.
Leonard Cheshire ran some focus groups with some disabled service users. We also know that one of the major issues is that there is insufficient time at traffic light crossings. So, supposedly, this is a pedestrian-safe area, and we know that the green man crossing is based on data that assumes that people walk at 1.2 metres per second. Clearly, if you're walking with a mobility aid or you're in a wheelchair, you're a lot slower than that, and then people feel pressured and maybe they scurry a little bit and they trip or fall or—. There must be something that can be done with that.
I recognise what you're saying, because, when I was previously a member of the Petitions Committee, there was a petition on this issue, and the Members were taken round Cardiff and had the issue demonstrated to them, so I fully recognise that concern. I'm going to come straight to Members because there are some specific questions. Vikki Howells.
Thank you, Chair. I've got some questions around the implementation of the mapping duties under the active travel Act. First of all, I'm interested to know whether disabled people and the groups representing them feel they were effectively engaged by local authorities during the mapping process.
I wasn't told by any of my local authorities about this.
I speak, as you know, as one of the largest providers of social care for people with disabilities in the UK, and I can actively say that we weren't engaged with at all, so I don't think there was real engagement with disability groups, certainly from—. You don't know what you don't know, but, certainly, from our perspective, we weren't engaged.
I'd say the onus was very much on us to get our members engaged. The local authority did approach us and spoke with us, and then when we said, 'Hey, great; well come and speak to the people cycling with us', that then didn't happen. It was very much, 'Yes, but you can get their views'. So, kind of the onus was put on us to do that work for the local authority in Cardiff.
Yes. So, RNIB, we don't believe has been actively involved, but, Andrea, I know you wanted to mention Guide Dogs, and RNIB were involved with supplying information.
We did a piece of work with the active travel team in the Welsh Government around sending out advice on how to engage with people with sight loss, and it went into the active travel newsletter. It was very practical advice. It didn't involve them spending a lot of money. It wasn't even asking for a tactile map, which actually are—you know, they have costs associated, but this was suggesting other ways to engage. We've had no follow-up contact from any local authorities apart from, I must say, Cardiff, Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf. They're the three examples of local authorities who have got in touch. However, I have no idea of how these maps will work, because we haven't heard anything about making that process inclusive at all.
So, can I ask you all, then: when it comes to the next round of mapping, do you think that the system needs to change? Do you think that the onus needs to be on the local authorities to engage with groups like yourselves?
Absolutely. And even if they just met with organisations and groups, we could help them to make that work. But they don't do that.
I think all members of the panel were nodding at that point as well.
—just before you start to answer? Because there are access forums in existence, are there not? So, why has this not been part of the work of the access forums?
And on the mapping question as well, it's worth just flagging, if they can be made accessible—and there are various ways of doing that, one of which being tactile, but, of course, just actually taking out a group of maybe blind and partially sighted people to review any changes—. There are different ways in which we've already advised we can help on that as well, and as a sector we'd be keen to facilitate that too.
Yes, indeed. That was going to be my next question—looking at the particular needs in terms of content of maps and publications. So, is there anything that any of the rest of you would like to add to that?
As you were saying about maps and stuff, the only maps that I've been taught to use are on my phone, but I learned that for myself because no-one in my local authority or any of my social services have shown me how to do that.
The thing I'd probably add is—
—the local authorities have kind of done a good job, in some respects, of engaging with existing active travellers. So, they're good at talking to Sustrans, they're good at talking to us. We work with people already cycling. We're not seeing how well they're engaging with those that aren't actively travelling, which is kind of the whole point, right? So, I suppose that's the thing I'd add—what we'd like to see is them engaging with those not actively travelling as part of the next round of engagement.
And, again, you've pre-empted my question, so, thank you, Kevin. So, my final question to the rest of you, then, is about improving the mapping process. What advice or specific steps would you like to see incorporated into the mapping process in future? Any other comments?
I'd like to say, for people who can't read, what you would need is to have a button to press and it tells you, 'The next train will be—'. No, sorry, trains do that, but buses don't do that. Luckily, I can read, but people who struggle to read don't know when the next bus is coming. So, they are just waiting there, hoping for the bus to come. And a lot of people don't have phones with internet on, or Wi-Fi and stuff.
With the mapping process, I think—. It's really difficult, isn't it? Because I can understand why local authorities would struggle with understanding how to communicate new routes to people who aren't reading the paper or can't access signage or—. I don't know how these new maps—what their plans are to promote them and engage on them. The key for us is that they engage at an early stage—so, as Elin was saying, they organise meetings, they communicate their plans, they discuss, they engage. That would be required as part of the equality impact assessment anyway. So, at the moment, it's just all slipping through the net. It needs rethinking around the mapping, it really does.
So, I suppose, what we would say is that we said they're good at engaging with those already actively travelling, so obviously we'd want them to continue doing that, but they've already got captive audiences of people who are travelling, who might not be actively travelling—schools, workforces in their own workforces, workforces in companies within Cardiff and in different cities around Wales. I mean, it's not hard for a local authority to identify masses of people who are moving around their cities and their towns via cars who they could go and talk to. Surely that shouldn't be that difficult. Just schools alone, if you look at the number of parents driving in that could otherwise be walking or cycling, that's a huge population, so they could just go out to the local schools and find out and engage with people that way. Again, it's that emphasis on not just talking to those already actively travelling.
Yes, just a point worth adding, really, when it comes to the route, is that blind and partially sighted people will learn a route with friends, family, rehabilitation officers and so on, so, again, just touching on your point, encouraging uptake of that route as well to be factored in as well.
Yes. Before the Act, before austerity, Guide Dogs were holding events in the Assembly highlighting the safe spaces issue and using, at that stage, Caernarfon and the Maes as an example. Andrea knows that I went out twice with you there myself, and saw the world through your eyes. Two lessons there: (1) a lot of money had been spent getting it wrong, and therefore more money had to be spent correcting it retrospectively, but (b) the need for proactive engagement and co-production with local disability access groups, Guide Dogs and others. Has there been any change since that campaigning in those areas?
I'd like to say 'yes', in some—. There are pockets of good practice. We've had some really encouraging developments in Swansea. There's been some really good engagement. Mark, you'll be glad to know that we've been back up to the Maes in Caernarfon to have a look at what can be done. We've had a recent meeting with the local authority around making that space easier for people to navigate again, because there have been issues for vulnerable pedestrians, because it is a shared space, that town square. But, just recently, it makes me really sad to report and disappointed that, Cardiff Council, we've had major—I can only call it very difficult negotiations around the new transport interchange. So, we've spent two years trying to speak to the local authority and we're beginning to move forward but we are in a legal challenge now, which is very unfortunate and completely unnecessary.
We've already touched on this, yourself, particularly, Kevin, with regard to the quality and quantity of active travel routes since the Act came into power—that's what we're looking at, isn't it? Consultation respondents have suggested that local authorities have focused on maps not infrastructure and that action to improve routes is limited by funding. Do you agree with that?
'Yes', I suppose, in a nutshell.
Yes, I thought you might have agreed with that. And, obviously, we have to look at the differences in disabilities as well. That's a very important factor, isn't it? So, do you think that the particular needs of disabled people in terms of walking and cycling and infrastructure and facilities—do you think someone is addressing that in a co-ordinated way?
'I don't think so' is the honest answer. I'd like to think someone was, but, yes—. It doesn't seem so. Often you get the thing where they lump all disability into the same pot, so you get this conflict of cyclists versus disability, and that kind of thing, when, actually, we have disabled cyclists, and we have as much conflict between those and cyclists as we do between those and pedestrians. So, when they just lump everyone into very neat little groupings, which can work very well for planning, potentially, it actually doesn't lead to the best infrastructure being designed, because you look at things like, 'Oh, we'll put a cycle lane in on the road. Great. So, that removes the issue of cycling conflicting with disability, surely', but then you've got your disabled cyclists who might not be able to use that cycle lane if it's not designed in the right way. So, it's things like that, where you get those different groupings, that can be harmful.
I can see you're all agreeing with Kevin, but would anybody else like to speak? Andrea.
I'd like to give an example of a really positive—because I think it's important to say where it is working. In Cardiff, Cardiff Council have an access focus group that they support, the council supports, to meet. That group is made up of a wide range of people. The over-50s forum is represented, people with learning difficulties, people who are wheelchair users, people with sensory loss and more people, and people with autism. We had one of the active travel team from the council come along to talk to us about routes. It took about two hours, I guess, which doesn't seem to be an awful lot of time to engage with that number of people and get that number of views. I don't know what the outcome of that will be in terms of Cardiff's final routes, but it was a really good example of engagement, and it's not rocket science.
I think, just to touch on—we mentioned shared space earlier just being an example of where it just doesn't work. One of the things we hear a lot at RNIB is, particularly when cyclists are using the same space and they're particularly narrow, they just become no-go zones for a lot of people [correction: blind and partially sighted people] and then they just aren't being used, because they feel intimidated.
Josh, perhaps you could answer this more specifically, because you've all agreed about infrastructure, et cetera. For your particular disability, do you see that infrastructure is, in any way, improved, and the quality of that infrastructure, over the time since the Act?
Like I said, when it comes to dropped kerbs and all this accessible stuff, there's not—. I've always found that it's a barrier, every single day, I have to go through—like parking on kerbs and stuff. Coming back to the dropped kerb situation, I once had to take 20 minutes to go right around the other block and that takes a lot of power off my wheelchair, because the wheelchair service only gives us as little power as possible—it's wasting my battery. So, the car being there, or that kerb being up, or that bus not stopping for me because he can't see me at my level—it's just that I have to be late for college, I have to be late for work, and this is just not fair on me and on anybody who's struggling living with this. I think that if you look at it this way: if you woke up in the morning and started—because anybody can wake up in the morning and have a disability. Think about this now: if you woke up with a disability tomorrow morning, would there be maps out there? Would the kerbs be flat for you? How would you manage to get over there? That's honestly my question to you: what would you do?
Well, absolutely. One of the aspects of that, obviously—cars blocking those access points for you—that's very easily seen to, isn't it, by much more law enforcement with regard to that, and perhaps a lot of higher fines for doing that and parking in those spaces. Because we've heard previously, with regard to buses, there are often cars parked on the spots where buses would make access for yourselves, and therefore you can't board on the buses, because those access points are blocked. Is that right?
As I was saying on this as well, obviously, the cars—as you were saying that people are getting fined and stuff. The place I live in Leckwith, when I get up every morning to go to the shop, there's always a car blocking the way, because there's a parking space right in front of the place I need to get through, right in front of the gate. People just park there, and I'm thinking, 'Can't someone see that that's blocking not just people that are wheelchair users—it's people who have babies, who basically can't get through?' It's just unacceptable, and people need to realise that it's not just an 'average' person, it's everyone.
Before I bring Rhian in, can I just ask: is that a law enforcement issue, or where a change is needed in terms of policy?
It's a bit of both. I think it's society as well. I think that society needs to realise that it's not just 'an ordinary person', do you know what I mean? Everybody's different in this world. We're all unique and I think we should think about everyone.
So, it's a culture change as well, I think you're saying. Well, you are saying that. I think Rhian wants to come in and Andrea, and David's got more questions, and Mark. So, I'll come to Rhian first.
Yes, I think we'd just almost second—. The question was: do we think infrastructure's changed significantly since the active travel Act was brought in? I don't think it has. Anecdotally, that's certainly the feedback from the focus groups we ran, from Josh and others. One of the things that we'd suggested was that actually there should be a dropped kerb every 100 metres on both sides of the road, because one of the issues is you can have a dropped kerb one side, and then the corresponding dropped kerb is significantly out of the way for somebody to travel to to get back onto the other side of the road. So, you haven't always got corresponding dropped kerbs. So, if you did every 100 metres, or approximately, dropped kerbs that corresponded, it would immediately make a huge difference to people.
Okay. I'm just thinking, in my own mind, 'Why is that happening?' I'll bring Andrea in and I'll come back to you for the next question, David. Andrea.
I'd say it hasn't improved infrastructure. I wish that it had. As for the issue of local authorities trying to take into account everybody's access requirements, sometimes that's used as a reason not to engage. So, quite often people will say, 'Well, it's just too hard. We can't speak to all those groups', but, actually, it's not that difficult, and generally disabled people working together will come up with some very creative solutions. Castle bridge in Cardiff—there's a really brilliant segregated route that, from our point of view, works for pedestrians. Others may disagree, but it's a good example of a route that was developed in discussion with a lot of disabled people.
Yes. Just finally, maintenance with regard to the infrastructure that's already there, which obviously is lacking in many ways: do you think the maintenance of these cycle routes or—?
Okay, so, Andrea's nodding 'no' and Josh has indicated to answer that.
I think it's an interesting one. We've just had some of the worst weather we've had in a long time, so it's looking pretty dire out there at the moment, because the routes have been shredded by the snow. But, in all, it's decent, I would say. I suppose it's interesting, though—you look at a pothole differently depending on what mode of transport you're using. If you're using a two-wheeled bike it's something you can navigate around. If you're using a three-wheeler, you can't navigate, because your bike's a metre wide, your cycle lane's maybe, if you're lucky, 1.5 metres wide, so you've got 25 cm either side, you're trying to avoid a pothole, you put yourself in with the cars. So, it really depends what kind of mode of transport you're using. I ride a three-wheeled bike myself, so I'm quite negative about the state of the roads, but I know a lot of two-wheeled cyclists probably wouldn't have that same view.
Absolutely. The route maintenance—it comes back to, I suppose, the definition of safety as well. We know incidence of sight loss increases particularly with age, and you might have additional conditions as well. But I hear stories—. Again, coming back to the trips and falls, if you're a long cane user, for example—I have a colleague who is constantly having to replace the ball on the bottom of his because it's getting caught in paving stones and things. So, that's really essential, because, again, it can impact on your confidence and your need to redo the route again.
So, let's look at it in the round: do you think that there is enough funding going into this to implement what this Act is all about?
Sorry, can I just say—? I used to live—I know that we live in Wales and stuff, but obviously I'm speaking for the UK now as a general—. I lived up in Cheltenham for a while and I wanted to access my railway station, and I couldn't, because there was this bumpy kerb in the way and these massive trees that were blocking my way, and I was scared—honestly, terrified—and that decreased my independence for a long time. That made me nervous for a while, and especially growing up, with my dad and my mum, and we used to go out, and stuff, I always used to ask my dad to drive me because I was nervous, because the payments were so small I was too scared that I was going to topple over, and I have done before. I've toppled over because of the pavement being too small, and I have to go to a meeting or college. It's making people be fired from their job if they can't turn up. It's all to do with detention and being expelled. We don't want that. So, I go on this pavement and I just topple over. It's just not fair because I've just injured myself because of that little pavement.
As Josh was saying, route maintenance we know is a significant issue. It's a significant issue in terms of confidence, in terms of damaging mobility or walking aids and in terms of potentially causing accidents—trips and falls. We know local authority budgets are constrained. We know it's perhaps not as high profile and as important as it needs to be, but it's essential if you want this policy to work that pavements aren't uneven, that paving stones are dealt with and that dropped kerbs are considered when they're planning the infrastructure. Route maintenance is essential.
And independence saves the public money at the end of the day, doesn't it—huge amounts of money? It seems crazy.
The only thing that I'd add to that is that there's some stuff that can be done that doesn't cost. For example, when we were looking at making the Taff trail more accessible, it was a case of taking barriers out, so not maintaining them but just removing them entirely. It's the same when it comes to street furniture and things like that. Actually, sometimes you can remove stuff if it's not necessary. If you've got things there that just aren't required, take them out. Speaking to cafes and places and limiting their furniture—that kind of stuff.
And did any of the panel want to comment on that last point? Andrea.
Thank you. I just wanted to absolutely back up what Kevin's saying, because often when street furniture is brought in, there doesn't seems to be much consideration of access, really. So, the colour contrast to make it stand out, the type of seats—those weird seats that don't have backs. I mean, I've leant back on them and just simply fallen off the back because you don't expect to find a seat without a back. And the colour and the shape of them. Again, it's something that could come to access forums and, again, some examples of where it is happening, but it's just not consistent.
I'll just bring Lee in, and then I'll come to Mark afterwards. Lee.
I think this moves us nicely on to the design guidance, which has already been touched upon. I think a lot of the comments that have been made haven't been specifically about the shortcomings of the Act; they've been more about the general state of the pedestrian environment, rather than new routes that have been brought forward under the Act. Kevin rightly identified that this clause about continuous improvement should be addressed under the Act. So, can I just ask you a couple of questions about that? In terms of your point about access barriers—the kissing gates, the A-frames and these things that get in the way that are designed to stop people going on motor bikes, that have the unwitting effect of posing real barriers for people with disabilities, people with pushchairs, and people with kids on the back of their bikes, and so on. Can you just elaborate on your experience on that in particular? You mentioned the Taff trail. Has there been any improvement since the Act has come in on that?
Yes, there has. I particularly have got to give credit to Caerphilly council who approached us and said, 'We've got these gates—can you show us which ones don't work?' So, what we did was actually rode adaptive bikes up the Taff trail with them and made them lift them over every time we got to a gate that we couldn't get through, and they quickly removed them.
So, yes, there have been some improvements. There are still a lot of gates and things in the way on different cycle routes and routes that are identified as cycle routes. It's always deemed that, you know, 'Oh well, we've got to stop the dirt bike'. Well, actually, if you can get a two-wheeled bike through, you're probably going to get a dirt bike through. What you're not going to get through is the wheelchair, the adaptive trike side by side, a trailer with your kids in, that kind of thing. So, we'd like to see more of them removed where they can be. We do understand that, obviously, there's an issue around dirt bike use on shared space and needing to police that and prevent that. But if that results in those routes not being able to be used at all, what's the point of stopping dirt bikes?
Not really, because it doesn't seem to be causing—. The Act's been around for a while, and we aren't seeing mass movement in terms of that.
Well, that's a slightly different point. The question of whether the guidance is being implemented is a very good point but a slightly separate one. But is the guidance itself any good from your point of view on this point?
Definitely. It's a really useful stick for us to have, to kind of force the issue with people.
Cost is a lot of it, I think, because even removing a gate costs money. That's still a team of workmen who've got to go out and remove it. It's someone who has to look at it to see if it can be removed. So, I do think cost becomes a big implication in terms of can the guidance—. Some of it is because we're trying to retrofit into very old cities design guidance. When you look at the roads within Cardiff, for example, putting in cycle lanes that are 1.5 metres wide is not always possible. So, I think cost becomes a major factor, but also the physical limitations of the already built environment.
Can I also ask, perhaps directed at Andrea Gordon: obviously, you had a fair amount of concern when the Bill was being discussed and the Act was passed—and you've already discussed it now—about the segregated and unsegregated paths. Clearly, this Act is a very long-winded process to actually result in new routes. There aren't many new routes that have yet emerged as a result of it. But, based on the conversations that you've been having, are you optimistic at all that things will improve in terms of the way these things are designed?
I don't think the active travel Act has had any positive impact on the potential for independent mobility for people with sight loss. I don't think it reaches them. I don't think it's relevant. It's not getting out there to people. It works for a minority of people perhaps. So, I'd like to say it would improve things, and I think it could. It has the potential to, because, after all, this is meant to be about walking and cycling.
I suppose it hasn't actually done anything yet, has it, because they've looking at the planning process of producing these maps.
Well, exactly. But even that, we're not part of that discussion. We're not around that table.
Picking up on that point, often the routes that are being planned are existing routes that are being used by cyclists and pedestrians. So, they're just going to use now routes that may have been used by leisure cyclists and pedestrians, and now they're actually starting to talk about them as commuting routes. So, pardon the phrase around it, but it does very much feel that the Act is great if you wear lycra, but if you're a leisure cyclist, or if you're a pedestrian, actually it's forcing some commuting into spaces that it might not have otherwise been before, because they're the easy routes to identify and to make. So, I agree with what Andrea was saying: I think there is a concern that the Act is great for those actively travelling already, but those who aren't, or those that this could put in conflict, I still think there's some work to be done.
And coming back to the gates, I totally agree with what you said there, Kevin. It's totally right. I think it's about the money, and, with the gates as well, they should be gotten rid of anyway. I've struggled through gates before, and I've had wheelchair maintenance. The wheelchair service have to pay a lot of money to fix my wheelchair because of the foot plates being wrecked and the back being wrecked. So, that's costing more money. And then, going through that gate again, because I need to go where I need to go, is costing more money again. So, it's better to get rid of the problem than to pay more on top of more money and more money.
Just moving on, we had evidence last week from the engineers about the need for flexibility in the implementation of the design guidance. Does that term make you nervous, given what you've already told us, that, in the granular implementation of this, on a case-by-case basis, you don't have a voice?
If I can just come in there, I think it's an opportunity for us to make sure that equality impact assessments are really thorough as well, because accessibility doesn't mean the same to everyone, as we've already touched on today. But it's just an opportunity to remind local authorities of their obligation under the Equality Act 2010 as well.
Okay. I'll come on to Mark Isherwood for the last section, but do you want to raise any other points on earlier sessions and then come on to your subject area, Mark?
Just one supplementary before I come on to my own subject area, which again is coming back to the pavements and kerbs issue. In my own casework experience, a lot of the problems occur because the responsibilities are split: some of it is for the police as criminal matters, and some of it with local authorities as civil matters. Often, therefore, that leads to confusion and buck passing—some intentional buck passing and sometimes because the officers themselves don't fully understand it. And yet there are some models in some communities where they've brought together the police and local authorities with the community to design a way of working together rather than apart. So, how could we perhaps be developing programmes that actually bring the different agencies together and overcome what, for me, is a repeated issue in casework?
The whole parking on pavements issue is very complex and, you're spot on, Mark—our experience is that the buck does get passed between the police, police community support officers, local authority parking enforcement, and sometimes we'll get support and sometimes we won't, and there's no way of knowing. The route to get that resolved is very complex. So, Guide Dogs Cymru is campaigning actively for a legal route to reduce parking on pavements, and to prevent it in fact, along with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, because that is such an issue for so many people, and definitely not just disabled people but for many others. So, whether we get to that point or whether we go in that direction in Wales, I don't know, but the system as it is now is completely unusable really.
My understanding is that Westminster are doing some work on this. Is there something that we could be looking at here on the same basis?
Well, yes, and it's for the Welsh Government to decide if they go the direction of legislation, and I understand that there would be costs associated with that, but I think the situation, as we have more cars, is just getting worse. We don't have more pavement; we just have more people in cars and fewer buses. When bus services are cut, even those people who did use buses find them harder to use, so, in my view, the situation will just get worse unless we act.
Okay, thank you, and I'll come on to my own questioning, which will link in again with one of the points that Lee raised, and then Kevin referred to on the Taff trail—the A-frame barrier issue, which is also a very hot issue on the Flintshire coastal path and something that the Flintshire Disability Forum Centre for Independent Living have been fighting for for a very long time.
I have to say that the last time I met council officers with the Centre for Independent Living for FDF, the officers said, 'We will tell you what size wheelchairs people can have in order to get through the A-frame so that you can tell them what they should be buying or requesting'. We were utterly flabbergasted. There were numerous pieces of legislation in our minds, plus principles such as the framework for action on independent living and the social model of disability and so on, which they seemed oblivious of, and all this because of historic problems with motor cycle access which the police themselves indicated is no longer a major concern for them.
So, my question is: what are your views on the approach taken by Welsh Government and local authorities to promoting and enabling active travel through behaviour change programmes, not just with the general population, which is where most of the focus today has been, but starting with those officers themselves, so that, firstly, they understand the basic principles about independent living and equality, secondly, that they understand their statutory duties, and, thirdly, that they try to work with the local community to find solutions rather than further barriers to the barriers or tackling the barriers?
I'm trying to think about how best to word this, but take that example where we went with Caerphilly council up the Taff trail on adaptive bikes, and they immediately saw what the issues were. So, is there something around when they're planning routes and when they're doing the design guidance and things, that they have to take someone in a wheelchair with them and they have to take someone on an adaptive bike, so that they can actually live that experience of what those gates do. Because they'll never experience it themselves. I'm never going to know what it's like to use a wheelchair because I don't need to, but if I'm with someone who's got to use one, I can see where the design is failing them, I think maybe if it's something around those lines, actually putting in very explicitly that when you're doing this route planning and when you're looking at how to make a route accessible, you have to take people for whom the barriers are actually a problem. Does that make sense?
Yes, and I totally agree with Kevin there. I know where you're coming from, because I've experienced this in my place. It's just like the kitchen; the people who were making stuff, building stuff for me in my house, didn't bring someone that's got a disability, that's going to live in the house, to know at what level the table should be at to pull out so that my wheelchair can get under it. It's like on the buses, for example: there's only one spot on the bus. So, I have to take the risk of basically missing the bus, because I can't get on that bus because the pole is in the way. Everybody's designed these buses for getting people with disabilities on buses, but they're just not designed very well. I totally agree with Kevin there: you need to get someone with that problem, whether that person is a wheelchair user or someone with a visual impairment. That needs to be sorted out and stuff, because you could just assume that the chair is that small when the chair is actually that big.
Who should be delivering disability awareness training to the council and health board officers?
It should be disability rights campaigners. It should be, basically, people like me and other people with disabilities that have lived those lives, that have come across these obstacles. They should be the ones who are providing it, not some person with no disability that hasn't got a clue, really, what they're talking about. They just look at the books.
Thank you for that answer. I hope we include that very much in the outcome of our work.
How do you feel that promotional programmes supporting disabled people who may be able to walk and cycle more, but are less likely currently to do so, can be delivered? So, how can we improve the promotional programmes?
We know that one in five of us will probably be affected by disability at some point in our lives, and, actually, there's not enough positive imagery, even of this active travel policy for disabled people. There's no sort of real awareness. Maybe for us who are a little bit more involved in the policy behind things, but, fundamentally, you know, for people like Josh or our focus groups, what was clear was that they didn't see any images that promoted active travel for disabled people. They weren't really aware of it. So, if you're going to effect behavioural change, if you're going to encourage more active travel, I think it goes back to Kevin's point earlier that those who are already actively travelling are already doing it. And what can we do to promote it? Well, make it seem more accessible. Have images of disabled people actively travelling, get disabled people involved in the way in which things are done, and guidance, and mapping, and all the things we've already touched on, really.
Again, just to amplify that, I suppose, we've got a wealth of access resource within even our own organisations, although we'd be really keen as a sector to help facilitate and grow in that knowledge as well.
The other thing is just to point out that what we know works in terms of encouraging the uptake of new routes is peer-to-peer support, particularly with blind and partially sighted people, but it's also thinking a bit more about the communications around that as well, with anyone with hearing loss, with sight loss, again, making sure that those are all covered, too.
So, just getting out and about, as you've heard from Josh—and I would absolutely recognise that—is so challenging sometimes for some people, and it should be a human right. It is a human right. So, how the built environment is created or changed, and how those discussions take place early on in the process, could save money, and could promote independence. We've got the health and well-being Act now and the social services Act where we are trying to enable people to be more independent, and yet, we're not putting the infrastructure around that, so expectations aren't able to match reality.
I'll just give an example of how I feel it's not being promoted by statutory—I'm obviously talking about adaptive cycling. The only people pushing it are the charities delivering adaptive cycling—ourselves in Cardiff, BikeAbility Swansea, and Wrexham Wheels for All. They're the companies who sell the adaptive bikes, to the point where you can't get an adaptive bike on a cycle to work scheme, often. They're not supported. So, even when you look at those things that are set up to try and promote people cycling, if you need a bit of an odd bike, if you need a bike that's got maybe an extra wheel, it's not promoted, it's not supported. I think in terms of when you look at the disabled cycling angle, there's a lot of work that could be done in promotion around it, yes.
I think we would definitely echo what you've just said, because in the focus groups we ran, one of the things that came across loud and clear was that people were saying, 'I don't have any money or any way of funding an adapted bike. I would love to get out and cycle, but I can't because they're very expensive and they're not included in my care package. They're not something that local authorities are concerned about. I would have to fundraise for said bike.' If we're talking about active travel as a way of commuting to work or to college or school, then it does need to be thought about in terms of how you fund those adapted bikes. The other thing we were also told about was there's no cycle proficiency training that's specifically for disabled people. Actually, there could be a lot more done in that regard. Again, you'd need funding to run that kind of programme, but again it's not something that's taught.
Coming to funding as well, with bikes and stuff like that and with manual chairs and sports chairs, with bikes as well, it's also promoting that independence and pushing ourselves. Basically, there's money for us for the PAs who are helping us and stuff like that, who are pushing our wheelchairs, but if we could have bikes and stuff, then we would do it ourselves and we would learn to be more independent.
Mark, can I just bring Lee in for a quick one and then come back to you?
Just to pick up on what Rhian and Kevin have just said, first of all, can you help me understand the nature and the extent of the problem? The cycle to work scheme is a deliberate tax measure to try and get people cycling to work, as it says on the tin. I didn't know that adapted bikes weren't eligible under that. That's very interesting. Is it because there aren't many people making commuting journeys who need adapted bikes, or are there other reasons?
Well, it's a bit of a thing of the bike's too expensive for people to afford to do their journey with. The average cost of an adapted bike is about £3,500. So, they just become too expensive. I own one myself—it was a huge outlay—and I commute on it, I commute every day. We became a dealer for a lot of adaptive bikes about two years ago, and in that time we've sold I think it's somewhere in the region of 30 adaptive bikes to people in south Wales. So, these are people who are using them for commuting, they're using them for leisure—
For both. It's a mix. Some people are using them to commute, some people are using them for leisure. We've got a service user that comes to us, he can take about two steps, he has cerebral palsy, put him on an ICE trike and he rides 6 miles. So, you can see in terms of the expansion in someone's mobility—
He does it for leisure because he doesn't own one himself. If he could afford it, he said he would own one and then would use it more often for other journeys.
That's very interesting. And just on Rhian's point on the lack of specific cycle training for people using adapted bikes, is that something that Pedal Power does?
We do. We do provide—. It's something we've had to develop, because it's not something that existed. We've had to adapt Bikeability sessions, essentially.
Yes. BikeAbility in Swansea does it, and our partners up in Wrexham do it as well, but it's very much something that the adaptive cycling community is doing.
It's niche—there are little pockets of it.
The other thing is, we sometimes get invited into schools to deliver it alongside statutory Bikeability sessions, particularly if they have one child or two children who need an adaptive bike. We will often be invited in to support those sessions in that way.
That's something the committee could consider: a specific recommendation to Bikeability on cycle standards and on the cycle to work scheme, which is Inland Revenue run, I believe, taking these points into consideration.
Yes. You've identified a number of ways in which local authorities, Welsh Government and non-Government bodies perhaps need to change the way they do things if they're going to engage effectively with disabled people in designing programmes. Can you identify any other areas, before we finish, that we haven't mentioned yet where you'd like to see those changes? And, how do we need to ensure that these become part of the cultural norm, rather than something added on at the end—a tick-box because something says they've got to do it?
We are drawing to the end of this session. So, Mark's question is: this is your chance to tell us anything that has not been drawn out already through questions.
In that, you may also want to just comment on how effective you believe the active travel action plan and active travel board have been in providing leadership and direction.
The thing I wanted to bring up, as I told you all earlier—. Not everyone, but—. Basically, I take a lot of trains. Coming off the train, it is always me being nervous and scared because I have had an incident once where someone has forgotten the ramp, and I literally nearly went off to Liverpool, which is not on.
I met a friend there. It was just that—. I want to be like everyone else because, at the end of the day, we are all human and we should all be treated the same. But, I just don't feel like—if that's not happening, especially coming back to the ramps, they need to sort it out. They always tell me to book assistance, and that day, I did book assistance, but they still didn't get the ramp out. This is what I'm trying to say. Why does everybody who is a person with a disability have to book assistance? I could basically have a call now, saying that I have a meeting in about two hours, and I'll have to go up to Barry, for instance, or something like that. That means I have to book assistance online, and all of this stuff. What if people forget, or it's not written down for them to get the ramp out for me?
Yes. Thank you, Joshua. We are a bit stretched for time now: Andrea.
Very quick. The reason why we worked with the active travel team in Welsh Government to get the information out through the active travel newsletter about how to engage with people with sight loss around active travel routes—. The reason why we originally got engaged was because I received a newsletter via e-mail, which is the only way I can receive letters, and within that, there was an example that was being given as a good example of best practice, of just a white line dividing two routes, and if that's what's coming out from the active travel team—. Obviously, I addressed that and that's why we had the good outcome. But, if that's what's coming out from the active travel team, that's about leadership; that's about guidance; and that's not okay.
Just a final thought, really, in terms of—. With each of the points that have been raised as well, prioritising safety is crucial in order to encourage blind and partially sighted people to get that independence to do more active travel: the delineation side with cyclists, which Andrea has also touched on. Just one final thought, I suppose, is: can there be a process developed to capture things like feedback on the routes and a complaints procedure, again, that is successful for blind and partially sighted people?
Sorry, just the last thing: design for the higher level of need first, not the lowest. The comment earlier about them looking at whether there is any flexibility in the design guidance. That's quite worrying. If you build it for the highest level of need, everybody else gets captured underneath that. The second thing is: what is our emphasis? Is it on reducing cars on the road, or is it reducing congestion? If we are putting HGVs in bus lanes, which has been a plan that was discussed quite controversially, then that will result in cyclists not wanting to cycle in those lanes. It puts the emphasis on the motor vehicle again, not on active travel. So, I think it's about: where is our emphasis? Is it on getting people actively travelling or not? I would hope it is.
I think if I had one final thought, it would be: when you are refreshing the mapping and the guidance, genuinely take account of the feedback from stakeholders; engage with us; listen to us. I think it's vital if this policy is going to work.
Chair, can I just say: the evidence on HGVs using bus lanes that Kevin has just given us is something perhaps we could bear in mind when we have a scrutiny session with the Minister, because that's something that the traffic commissioner is consulting on.
We do. We have an hour and a half session coming up in that regard. That's a good point.
I think all the panel members have had an opportunity to give a final thought. Am I right? Yes. In that case, can I thank you ever so much for your time this morning? We're really grateful. You will have a copy of the transcript of the proceedings, which you can either read or listen back to. So, please do review that and let us know any further thoughts you have. We're really grateful for your time this morning. Diolch yn fawr.
In that case, I do bring our meeting to a close. We do have a couple of things to discuss after our meeting has closed as well. Thank you very much.
Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 11:35.
The meeting ended at 11:35.