Sustrans launch campaign calling on the Government to reverse Active Travel cuts

As we reported last month, the government used their recent big HS2 announcement to slip in the news (once you had read between the lines) that their funding of active travel was being slashed from over £300m to £100m across the next two years.

This provoked widespread outrage, not least at Sustrans, whose raison d’etre is to make life easier for people who want to walk or cycle. They claimed at the time that the funding cuts meant the chances of achieving Net Zero had itself  been reduced to zero.

black and white bicycle lane

Now the charity has launched a campaign, inviting supporters to add their name to a letter to the Transport Secretary, calling on him to re-evaluate the decision.

Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans said: ‘We must look at the bigger picture. These sums may be tiny compared to the billions spent on building roads, but with the Government’s goal to reach Net Zero by 2050 now in tatters this will have a devastating impact on future generations. How can the Government honestly think this is for the benefit of today’s children and tomorrow’s adults?’

Amongst other things, the open letter to the Transport Secretary Mark Harper MP says of the cuts: This will halt schemes to improve active travel in cities and towns across England, and presents a significant risk to make the National Cycle Network a traffic-free, safe and accessible Network for everyone.

‘We want to emphasise, that despite local authorities being encouraged by the Government to build new safe infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling, they are now having that support ripped from under them.

They point out that their Walking and Cycling Index revealed that people walking, wheeling and cycling took 14.6 million cars off the road in 2021, saving 2.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. In the same year, active travel contributed £36.5 billion to the UK economy.

In his independent review of the Net Zero Strategy, Chris Skidmore MP recommended that the Government ‘commits to long-term funding for active travel, to ensure that more people will benefit’.

The charity says the Government has not listened to this advice, opting instead to cut funding and ‘kick the can down the road’.

Sustrans make the point that many people will have no choice but to drive, increasing congestion and allowing cars to further dominate towns and cities – despite the Government’s target that 50% of journeys in towns and cities will be walked or cycled by 2030.

It is estimated that improved air quality, through meeting the UK Government’s own target to double cycling and increase walking, would save the economy £5.67 billion over 10 years.

Xavier Brice continued: ‘We’ve seen in shows such as David Attenborough’s Wild Isles the impact that humanity is having on the UK environment and how the nature around us is suffering. This decision is only going to make that worse as the choice to travel healthily, cheaply, and emissions-free becomes limited’.

Read and sign the letter here


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