The government has today (April 21) published its long-term plan – backed with around £1.2bn in funding – to encourage cycling and walking short journeys, which is hoped will deliver ‘substantial health and environmental benefits’.
The Department for Transport said hopes to make cycling and walking to become the norm by 2040 and will target funding at schemes to encourage people to cycle or walk for shorter journeys.
Specific objectives of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy are to double cycling, reduce cycling accidents and increase the proportion of 5 to 100 year-olds walking to school to 55% by 2025.
DfT claims that the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will support the aims of its National Air Quality Plan for Nitrogen Dioxide, which has indicated that road transport is by far ‘the largest contributor to NO2 pollution in areas where the UK is exceeding NO2 limit values.’
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are making cycling and walking more accessible to everyone because of the substantial health and environmental benefits – it will also be a boost for businesses because a fitter and healthier workforce is more productive.”
“We have already tripled spending on cycling since 2010 and we are now publishing a long-term investment plan because we are absolutely committed to increasing levels of cycling and walking.”
Of a total £1.2bn allocation, £50 million will be used to provide cycling proficiency training for 1.3 million children; £85m to make improvements to roads for cyclists; and, £80m for safety and awareness training for cyclists, cycle storage, bike repair, maintenance courses and road safety measures.
The majority of the allocation will go to councils to invest in walking and cycling schemes; local growth funding to support walking and cycle; and, improving infrastructure and expanding cycle routes.
In addition, the government is investing an extra £5 million in improving cycle facilities at railway stations; £1 million on Living Streets’ outreach programmes to encourage children to walk to school; and, £1 million on Cycling UK’s ‘Big Bike Revival’ scheme which provides free bike maintenance and cycling classes.
Xavier Brice, chief executive Sustrans, a charity that makes it easier for people to walk and cycle, said: “The first ever ‘Cycling and walking investment strategy’ is a significant step forward by the government. There is an overwhelming body of evidence that demonstrates that investment in cycling and walking has many health, social and economic benefits and must be prioritised. The challenge now is to deliver the change needed locally and nationally.”