“Double investment in active travel now not tomorrow,” say walking and cycling groups

Investment in cycling and walking needs to double immediately if the whole country is to benefit.
Cycling and walking groups have repeated their call for an immediate doubling of funding as the Government responds to the Transport Committee’s report on active travel, published today.

The Walking and Cycling Alliance, made up of the Bicycle Association, British Cycling, Cycling UK, Living Streets, Ramblers and Sustrans, wants funding for active travel infrastructure and programmes to increase to £17 per person annually immediately, and £34 per person by 2025.

Current funding for cycling and walking is estimated at £7 per person in England, equating to a little over two per cent of total transport spending.

To meet the Government’s targets of doubling the levels of cycling and raising the proportion of children walking to school as laid out in its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy in England, the Alliance says transport spending on active travel must immediately increase to five per cent of total transport spending, increasing to 10 per cent over the next five years.

The Alliance says the Government also needs to move quickly to confirm funding for 2020/21, as indicated by Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris earlier this week, and to publish its investment model research which will inform future spending decisions.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of Living Streets speaking on behalf of the Alliance said:

“Walking and cycling have huge benefits to our health, but also help reduce road congestion, greenhouse gases and air pollution across the UK. The Government needs to double investment in active travel now, not tomorrow.

“Investment is currently only two per cent of government transport spend – a tiny fraction. The Government has already admitted its current policies will only deliver a third of what is needed to meet its cycling target.

“The Walking and Cycling Alliance wants annual funding for active travel infrastructure and programmes to increase initially to £17 per person in 2021, ramping up to £34 per person by 2025. This would amount to slightly more than a doubling of investment next year, and a further doubling over the next 5 years. This would take cycling and walking investment up to just 10 per cent of total transport spending, something we have long called for.”

“The Government needs to raise its ambition on walking. The last three years’ figures show that it’s realistic that the average person can walk at least once a day, so we believe a target of 365 journeys a year is achievable.”

Notes to editors

1. The Walking and Cycling Alliance comprises British Cycling, Bicycle Association, Cycling UK, Living Streets, Ramblers and Sustrans.

2. The Department for Transport’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy has targets published in 2017 to:

  • double cycling, where cycling activity is measured as the estimated total number of cycle stages made each year, from 0.8 billion stages in 2013 to 1.6 billion stages in 2025;
  • increase walking activity, where walking activity is measured as the total number of walking stages per person per year, to 300 stages per person per year in 2025;
  • increase the percentage of children aged 5 to 10 that usually walk to school from 49% in 2014 to 55% in 2025;
  • reduce the rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured on England’s roads, measured as the number of fatalities and serious injuries per billion miles cycle by 2020.

3. Jesse Norman MP, the then Transport Minister, said in oral evidence to the Transport Select Committee in May that further investment would be needed if the Government was going to meet its cycling target (Q300, Q304, http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/transport-committee/active-travel/oral/101555.html).

4. Chris Heaton Harris, Transport Minister, said in response to a written parliamentary question from Rosena Allin-Khan on 1 October, “The Government remains committed to the aims of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS). The Department will confirm shortly with local authorities and others what funding will be available in 2020/21 for various Government-funded walking and cycling schemes. Longer-term funding decisions will be a matter for the autumn Budget and the 2020 Spending Review.”

5.In its response, the Department for Transport highlights the work it has done to develop investment models to ascertain the funding required to meet the 2025 aims and targets set out in CWIS.

6. The WACA members were among over 100 organisations who signed up to the Take Action on Active Travel manifesto in 2006, which called for cycling to receive 10% of transport spending.  Its other backers included transport professional bodies as well as health, road safety and environmental groups.  The United Nations has called for walking and cycling to receive 20% of transport funding.

7. The Government's response to the Transport Committee's inquiry into Active Travel is available at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmtrans/2662/2662.pdf

Press contact information

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org