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Roads to Nowhere

Infrastructure Bill amendment would give cycling and walking the same priority as roads

Sian Berry's picture
Woman walking through group of cars

Six organisations, including Campaign for Better Transport are proposing changes to a new law that would guarantee long-term funding for cycling and walking, not just for big new roads.

With the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Living Streets, British Cycling, CTC the national cycling charity and Sustrans, we're backing an amendment to be tabled shortly in the House of Lords. The amendment would fill a huge gap in funding for active travel that threatens to open up when Government plans for spending on cycling and walking infrastructure come to an abrupt end.

Currently, the Infrastructure Bill is aimed only at fixing long-term planning and funding for roads, which will then enjoy the same secure five-year funding cycle that governs rail investment. However, despite walking and cycling being the healthiest and greenest forms of transport, accessible to more people than cars and expensive rail fares, there is no national funding set aside in for cycling and walking after 2016, when current schemes like the Local Sustainable Transport Fund come to an end – the same time as local authority budgets face further deep cuts.

As CPRE sets out on its website, the strategy would be published by the Government and would set out a binding plan to support walking and cycling. Parliament would also be able to scrutinise how well the strategy was working, as is planned for major roads in the Infrastructure Bill.

The strategy would be divided into four parts:

  • a long-term vision to increase walking and cycling across the whole population, in rural as well as urban areas
  • a Statement of Funds Available for the next five years, setting out national funds that would be spent specifically on cycling and walking
  • a detailed Investment Plan showing the programmes and schemes that will be funded, such as more cycle-rail integration, safe footways and cycle routes along busy roads, or better junctions and streetscapes
  • a Performance Specification setting targets and details of how the performance of the strategy will be measured, such as by looking at increased cycling and walking levels, better safety, or the proportion of schools and stations with safe routes to them.

Read more in the Times (no paywall)

The targets and investment levels in the strategy will need to be ambitious. Germany has increased cycling from 10 to 14% of all journeys in the past five years, while in England the percentage of cycling journeys has been around 2% for the past two decades. The most recent National Travel Survey shows a 30% decrease in the number of walking trips per person per year since the 1990s.

Lord Berkeley and Lord Judd will be tabling the amendment with the backing of all our groups when the House of Lords returns after the summer recess, and our Chief Executive Stephen Joseph is looking forward to seeing Parliament debate whether cycling and walking should remain shut out of long-term support.

Stephen JosephStephen says:

"It’s inexcusable that the Department for Transport says it can’t guarantee spending on walking and cycling beyond 2016, when it’s already doing that for rail and roads. With the Infrastructure Bill not expected to become law until March 2015, this amendment will keep the pressure on MPs right up to the election."