Government decision to cut active travel budgets met with dismay

15.03 | 16 March 2023 | |

The Government is being urged to reverse “heart-breaking” cuts to active travel funding, amid fears they will “counteract the tremendous progress we’ve seen in recent years”.

In a written statement on 9 March, transport secretary Mark Harper announced that overall active travel funding for the current parliamentary term is being reduced from £3.8 billion to £3 billion.

This includes a two-thirds cut to promised capital investment in infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling, from £308 million to only £100 million for the next two years.

In an open letter to prime minister Rishi Sunak, a coalition of charities, professional organisations and businesses are demanding a reversal of the proposed cuts.

The Walking and Cycling Alliance (WACA) says it is “disappointed to see vital active travel budgets wiped away in England, at the exact time when they are most essential to the UK’s economic, social and environmental prospects”.

It describes the cuts as a “backward move for the economy, the climate and health”.

Speaking on behalf of WACA, Xavier Brice, Sustrans CEO, said: “It is heart-breaking 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.

“These cuts are a backward move for active travel and will counteract the tremendous progress we’ve seen in recent years. These cuts are disproportionate compared to those for road and rail and 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, are made impossible by these cuts.”

Among the WACA members is Cycling UK.

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK chief executive said: “In one move, this Government has effectively devastated the legacy of successive Conservative administrations and their work to get Britain cycling.

“At a time when people are faced with a cost of living crisis where they are questioning their transport choices, making cycling and walking easier is a cost effective area for government investment.”



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