Government admits funding for cycling in England is not enough

On Thursday 13 October 2022, Transport Minister Lucy Frazer MP admitted government funding for cycling and walking in England was not enough to help meet their modest ambitions

During Transport Questions in the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday, 13 October) in a blink and you might miss it exchange between Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, Catherine West and Transport Minister Lucy Frazer MP, the government finally recognised its funding commitments for cycling and walking were not enough to strategic ambitions.

In Gear Change, the government’s strategy for increasing cycling and walking in England published in July 2020, targets were set to double current cycle levels by 2025 from 0.8 billion stages or trips to 1.6 billion and see walking levels increase to 365 trips per person each year.

Ms West asked the minister what assessment of the level of funding will be required to meet its cycling targets for 2025 and 2030, to which the response was a succinct response of “a minimum of £4.4bn”.

This is more than half a billion pounds more than is currently invested in cycling and walking, that is set at £3.8 billion, when combining both dedicated funding for cycling and walking and the City Regions Sustainable Travel Settlement (CRSTS) fund.

The government’s acknowledgement that it is failing to provide adequate funding for cycling was not lost on Matt Mallinder, Cycling UK director who commented:

“Today we saw government recognise they need at least a minimum of £4.4 billion to meet their own modest targets for increasing active travel – more than half a billion than current levels.”

This is the first time the government has stated the actual amount required to meet their modest ambitions, and a tacit acknowledgement they will fail to meet them at current levels of funding.

With news reports making it clear the Chancellor will need government departments to make further cuts to existing budgets, there is understandable concern among cycling and walking groups that the modest funding available in England will be cut further.

Many are turning to cycling for their shorter journeys, whether to work, school or the shops – all journeys essential for the UK’s growth agenda.

Matt Mallinder, Cycling UK director

Mr Mallinder urged the government not to cut funding for cycling and walking further pointing out how for many cycling could provide a transport life line when few others are available.

“As cost of living hits us all hard across England, everyone is looking to save money wherever they can,” said Mr Mallinder. “Many are turning to cycling for their shorter journeys, whether to work, school or the shops – all journeys essential for the UK’s growth agenda.

“While we can but hope the Chancellor’s fiscal plan due at the end of the month will deliver an increase in active travel funding, it should at the very least maintain current levels to keep the nation moving and get Gear Change started.”  

Cycling UK today has launched an online action allowing people who would like to prevent funding for cycling being cut further to contact their MPs.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said: “If you want to help preserve the limited resources we have for cycling and walking, please take a couple of minutes out of your day and write to your MP, particularly if they’re Conservative representatives.

“This government will probably react more to pressure from MPs, so your political representative needs to know how investment in active travel brings high and quick returns on investment, is good for business, grows the local and national economy, saves people money, and I haven’t even got to health, community and environmental benefits.

“We know the importance of growing the economy, but with cycling we can have green growth and it can be delivered quickly.”

Take action now