The Department for Transport has announced it will invest £23m into walking and cycling across the UK.
£21m of the funding will go towards upgrading significant on- and off-road sections of the UK’s 16,000-mile National Cycle Network, which is currently used by 4.4 million people each year.
A further £2m will go towards wider projects encouraging walking and cycling, particularly among children and young people.
The transport minister Jesse Norman said: ‘Cycling and walking are a key part of our plans to make transport cleaner, greener and more productive.
‘This funding will help ensure that everyone can enjoy wonderful routes which connect communities across the UK, and benefit from the huge health and environmental benefits of cycling.’
The £23m investment will be allocated by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans, which created the National Cycle Network.
Sustrans reviewed the Network for the first time last year and identified multiple ways it could be upgraded, dozens of which will now be funded by the £21m investment.
Activation projects the £21m will help include connecting current paths through Lincoln city centre, upgrading Whitby’s Cinder Track North, and creating a new quiet-way route between Luton and Dunstable.
The other £2m will support broader initiatives such as Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival – which engages those who own bikes but don’t use them – and an outreach programme by the walking charity Living Streets which encourages children to walk to school.
Living Streets’ scheme helped schools involved see a 30% increase in their walk-to-school rate last year, with the government aiming to see 55% of primary school children walking to school by 2025.
Xavier Brice, Chief Executive of Sustrans called the investment a ‘vital boost’ in achieving a network of safe walking and cycling journeys for everyone.
Brice said: ‘As the custodians of the National Cycle Network we are very excited by this investment in transforming crucial links for communities across England, making it easier for everyone to walk and cycle.
‘We look forward to working with local authorities and partner organisations around the country to improve people’s health, access to green spaces, and help our villages, towns and cities move sustainably.’
This announcement is one of the government’s recent initiatives aiming to reduce emissions across the UK’s transport network as part of its new Clean Air Strategy.
Last month the DfT announced its £48m Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme which will fund 283 new zero-emission buses and related infrastructure in locations across the UK.