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Anger as Government announce cuts to Active Travel Funding

While the big news was the delay to parts of the HS2 line and the mothballing of two road schemes, transport secretary Mark Harper managed to slip in the news that the active travel budgets was being slashed. By what exact amount is not clear but the lowest estimate is £200m, two thirds of the budget.

Organisations opposed to the cuts were quick to point out that active travel contributed £36.5 billion to the UK economy in 2021, took up to 14.6 million cars off the road and prevented 2.5m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

people riding bicycle on road during daytime

The government’s target of 50% of all journeys being walked or cycled by 2030 now looks more remote than ever.

Sustrans – the charity whose objective is to make it easier for people to walk or cycle – issued a joint statement  alongside organisations representing the Walking and Cycling Alliance and Women in Transport: ‘It is heartbreaking to see vital active travel budgets wiped away in England, at the exact time when they are most essential to UK economic, social and environmental prospects. ‘It simply doesn’t make sense to withdraw investment in active travel at this time, particularly as it contributed £36.5 billion to the UK economy in 2021.  

‘Representing a two-thirds cut to promised capital investment in safe infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling, these cuts are a backward move for active travel and will counteract the tremendous progress we’ve seen in recent years. These cuts will leave England lagging far behind other UK nations and London, at a time when we need to be raising the bar everywhere. 

‘Promised Government targets of 50% of all journeys in English towns and cities being walked or cycled by 2030, and for the UK to be Net Zero by 2050, are made impossible by these cuts. 

‘More than ever, people want and need support to walk, wheel and cycle, and these cuts will impact those that would have benefited most, limiting our choice to travel healthily, cheaply and emissions-free.’

Adam Tranter, the West Midlands Cycling & Walking Commissioner who discussed the cuts on BBC’s World at One, said: ‘No other transport schemes can be delivered as quickly and cost-effectively as active travel. Then there’s the added benefits of decarbonising, improving our health, air quality and productivity.
 
Image: Noralí Nayla

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