Opinion Former Article

Charities urge greater focus on active travel

Transport spending on walking and cycling needs to increase from 2% to 5% if Government is to have any hope of meeting its active travel targets, three charities have said.

Cycling UK, Sustrans and Living Streets told a House of Commons Transport Committee inquiry into active travel that spending on sustainable modes needs to significantly increase to address what they describe as a public health crisis.

Government set out in its 2016 Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy an aim to double the number of cycling trips and get 55% of primary school children to walk to school by 2025. But the charities claim that only a third more trips by bike are likely to be seen over the next six years, and that the percentage of children walking to school fell last year.

The three groups added that spending on walking and cycling should increase to 10% of the transport budget by 2024 and that without more cross departmental working the opportunity for walking and cycling to address problems with obesity and air pollution will be limited.

Cycling UK policy director Roger Geffen described cycling as a “miracle pill that can cure a lot of the ills this Government is facing” such as air pollution and physical inactivity.

Sustrans senior policy and political advisor Rachel White added: “The Government now needs to up its game on the low cycling levels and the decreasing numbers of children walking to school.”

Living Streets chief executive Joe Irwin said: “Enabling more people to walk and cycle everyday journeys can hugely improve our health, air quality, traffic congestion and road safety. Government needs to invest to make this happen.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The Government wants to make cycling and walking the natural choice for shorter journeys, encouraging healthy exercise, improving air quality and reducing obesity.

“As outlined in our Cycling and Walking Safety Review, around £2 billion is being invested over the course of this Parliament to support this ambition.”

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