The Government has been warned its vision to make England a ‘great walking and cycling nation’ cannot be delivered without a ‘substantial’ increase in investment – after cutting funding for 2021/22.
In July, the Government set out a ‘comprehensive, long term’ plan to embed the benefits of walking and cycling into daily lives – pledging to put in place the right infrastructure, training and support to ‘kickstart a revolution’.
The commitments in the plan are backed by £2bn of new money – funding which was reaffirmed by chancellor Rishi Sunak is his spending review on 25 November.
However, Mr Sunak also announced a 15% decrease in annual funding for cycling and walking in 2021/22, down from £300m in 2020/21 to £257m.
This means a £1.5bn investment is needed in the final three years of this parliament, the equivalent to £500m a year or around double the current level of investment.
Cycling UK says while the Government’s ambition for active travel is impressive, the spending review “takes us backwards when it comes to delivery”.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, said: “The Government’s ‘Gear Change’ document released in the summer set out a bold vision for cycling and walking in England, but neither that nor the promised ‘Green Revolution’ can be delivered without substantially increasing investment.
“The £257 million set aside for active travel next year is less than 1% of the £27.4 billion roads budget the Government remains stubbornly wedded to.
“Reducing next year’s funding by around £45 million makes the delivery of the Government’s own targets to increase levels of cycling and walking almost impossible, without the radical shift in transport spending priorities required to decarbonise transport.
“The Government’s vision and stated ambition for active travel are impressive, but this spending review takes us backwards when it comes to delivery.”