Building for the Future
Cycleways and Footpaths Projects
The health and happiness benefits of cycling and walking are well documented while only 6% of people cycle and 14% walk to work. Transport for Britain is lobbying for greater public funding of cycleways and footpaths across the UK.
Transport for Britain campaigns to help make walking and cycling the natural choice
Why Active Travel is so important
In line with the Government policy to deliver sustainable travel by making cycling and walking the natural choices for shorter journeys we are keen to promote ‘Active Travel’ with all the associated environmental and health benefits. To achieve our objective, there needs to be a massive increase in cycling infrastructure and footpaths in both urban and rural areas, building upon the work achieved so far by Government, local authorities, SUSTRANS and community groups.
More needs to be done to promote Active Travel
Over the past 20 years cycling has become increasingly popular however, as a percentage of all trips made, cycling only accounted for 1.7% in that year*.
In 2017 the Government launched its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy which set out the ambition to double cycling activity by 2025 and achieve annual reductions in the rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured. This was backed by a total investment figure of £1 billion over 5 years. A further £2 billion funding was announced in 2020 under the Cycling and Walking Plan ‘Gear Change’. Altogether a six-fold increase in spend on cycling has been promised, covering infrastructure and measures to support behaviour change, such as cycle training, subsidies for bike purchases / repairs and workplace / school cycling facilities. Alongside this, the DfT published the long-awaited guidance for new cycle infrastructure (LTN 1/20), which lays down minimum standards and conditions for attracting future funding.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen a 46% increase in miles cycled across England, as transport and working patterns shifted. This is particularly the case in our major cities such as London and Manchester, where significant cycling infrastructure improvements have been made. Hundreds more ‘school streets’ and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have been designated, alongside over 100 miles of segregated cycle lanes supported by 2 rounds of funding for local authorities under the Active Travel Fund. Indeed, we now have a plethora of Government funded schemes which include improvements for cycling infrastructure, including Transforming Cities Fund (public transport and active travel) and Local Transport Plans. Whilst most of the funding is targeted at our cities and other urban areas, £30m is also earmarked for upgrading the National Cycle Network (NCN), which connects up our urban areas passing through our countryside with over half of the UK population living within 1 mile of the network.
Transport for Britain welcomes all these initiatives and it is tempting to think that all this activity and funding should suffice. However, according to the charity, Cycling UK, the Department for Transports own analysis suggests that the Government is on course to fail to meet its 2025 target without another doubling of investment. This would mean investment reaching 5% of total transport spending in 2022, increasing to at least 10% within 5 years. This would equate to increase from the current £7/head of population to £34/head by the end of this parliament. The 2019 manifestos of the Labour, Liberal and Green Party all commit to investing at these, or higher levels.
Transport for Britain’s priorities for cycling and footpaths
Transport for Britain is keen to support all the existing work that is taking place to make cycling a ‘normal’ mode of transport for a large part of the population in Britain. With over two out of every three car journeys being under 5 miles, there remains enormous scope for modal shift from vehicles to cycling, freeing up road space, reducing carbon emissions and improving health. We, therefore, wish to concentrate our efforts in those places where infrastructure is poor, or completely absent. This mainly involves routes between urban areas and rural routes and involves greatly expanding the NCN.
- Our priorities for improving the NCN are:
- To seek additional Government funding in excess of the £30m already allocated.
- For Government to engage with the private sector by encouraging them via a levy or otherwise to provide dedicated cycleways when constructing new housing estates or industrial / commercial sites.
- The introduction of a ‘tourist tax’ to pay for the maintenance of footpaths and cycleways in national parks and in other appropriate locations.
- The Introduction of ‘pay as you go’ provision for certain leisure routes in specific locations e.g., across private land including the thousands of acers owned by the National Trust and English Heritage
- Giving priority walkers and cyclists on quieter country lanes following the model of ‘quiet lanes’ introduced by some local authorities. The National Byway offers a similar model that could be extended in its scope.
- Linking small and medium sized towns to the NCN and encouraging local authorities to provide segregated cycle ways and / or traffic calming schemes in these location
- Building bi-modal transport corridors, involving the construction of physically segregated cycle lanes alongside roads or railways.
- Environmental payments for farmers to provide agricultural land alongside main roads where segregated cycle routes could be developed as per the model in development by Sustrans.
- The creation of Great British Railways (GBR) offers the opportunity to bring a more consistent approach to cycle carriage on trains. Transport for Britain support all efforts to integrate rail travel with cycling and will lobby GBR to positively promote long distance travel with bikes.
- The bike to work scheme has been successful in encouraging many with shorter journeys to work to cycle on their daily commute. Transport for Britain believe that with renewed Government investment, extending this scheme to include e-bikes would encourage more people to utilise the scheme and, to consider travelling longer distances to work by bike.
- Finally, the reason cited by most people for not cycling, is road safety. The changes recently announced to the Highway Code, which become law in early 2022, mark a much overdue change for the better with a hierarchy of road users protecting the most vulnerable (walkers and cyclists). The rules regarding safe overtaking (minimum 1.5m space) will make a significant difference. Transport for Britain wishes to see this enforced as often as possible, with corresponding penalties for infringement.
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