Budget reaction: Government “airbrushing out any role for cycling” in post-pandemic plans

Cycling UK reacts to a Budget which promises much for the future, but nothing for cycling and walking.

Cycling UK has accused the Chancellor of “airbrushing out any role for cycling in plans for a post-pandemic recovery” in a damning assessment of his claims that the Government is one “to invest in new infrastructure”.

While Chancellor Rishi Sunak laid out his vision of a budget for the future which he said would impact on successive governments, in one area he was firmly stuck in the past: cycling and walking investment.

The lack of cycling and walking in his address to Parliament was reinforced by its omission in the document outlining the detail of Budget 2021.

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive said:

“It’s right that the Chancellor sets out his plans for the future wellbeing and prosperity of the nation, but his and the Treasury’s complete disregard for cycling’s role in this future is a complete failure to make good on this Government’s plans to build back better.”

Last May the Government announced it would invest £2 billion in cycling and walking over five years leading up to 2025 to meet its ambition to double cycling trips from two percent of all journeys by the same year.

In total £250 million was allocated for 2020/ 2021, with just £257 million set aside for the coming year (2021 / 2022). This means there is still £1.5 billion to be spent for the three years leading up to 2025. Cycling UK points out at this rate unless investment doubles over the following three years the Government will not meet its own spending commitments.

The charity says the Government’s ambitions to double cycling are already projected to fail unless the rate of investment is increased. It argues for the Government to have a realistic chance of meeting its target investment would need to be between £6 and £8 billion.

“It’s impossible to have a ‘green recovery’ if we don’t actually invest in our future,” said Sarah Mitchell. “Investment in cycling costs very little compared to other essential transport infrastructure, but has a huge return on investment. If this really is a government which plans to invest in new infrastructure, and which aims to ‘keep our streets safe’ and ‘support the most vulnerable’ then investing in cycling and walking makes simple economic sense.

“Instead of this, we have a budget that is airbrushing out any role for cycling in its plans for a post-pandemic recovery.”

Department for Health figures show for every £1 spent on cycling infrastructure it makes at least £13 for the exchequer, close to four times more than the return on investment for road bypass schemes which typically generate £3.70 for every £1 spent.


Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often. www.cyclinguk.org

Press contact information

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours please email publicity@cyclinguk.org. Out of hours, call 07786 320 713