Seize ‘unique’ active travel opportunity, Government urged

07.59 | 9 October 2020 | | | 1 comment

Brake is urging the Government to build on the increased number of people walking and cycling during Covid-19 by pressing ahead with plans to reform active travel.

New statistics published on 8 October show that between May and July 2020, 39% of people reported walking more and 38% reported cycling more than before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Looking forward, 94% thought it likely that they would continue to cycle and walk more once travel restrictions were removed.

Brake says the figures highlight a ‘unique opportunity’ to permanently change the way people travel – and is calling for the Government to ‘urgently’ publish its updated Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.

In May, the Government promised the strategy would be released ‘this summer’. It is expected to include plans for:

  • the creation of a national cycling and walking commissioner and inspectorate
  • higher standards for permanent infrastructure across England
  • getting GPs to prescribe cycling and exercise
  • creating a long-term budget for cycling and walking similar to what happens for roads

Brake has also warned that with private car use increasing since lockdown restrictions were eased, the opportunity might have been missed.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake said: “Walking, cycling, and public transport are at the heart of a safe and healthy future for our communities and we must use all the policy and investment levers we can to make these the natural choices for our journeys.

“The fact that more people walked and cycled during lockdown is welcome, but unsurprising, news – all of us will have seen the joyful sight of roads with fewer cars and more people getting around on foot or by bike, in early summer. 

“The fact that nearly all who said they increased their walking and cycling also planned to continue doing so, after lockdown restrictions were lifted, is significant and must make the Government press on with reforms, urgently.

“These figures show that lockdown provided a unique opportunity to change the way we move, for good, with public will seemingly behind reforms. Unfortunately, with private car use increasing since lockdown restrictions were lifted, this opportunity may have been squandered.”



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    “This opportunity may have been squandered” is a cheap shot by Brake, so nothing unusual there. Changing the mindsets of ordinary people takes a long time although Covid19 may well nudge a sizeable number (but still a small percentage) of people to think a bit more about active travel. Even so, having sufficient active travel infrastructure in place for the average resident to use will take at least a decade and possibly a generation of serious investment. Whether the updated Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy for England is published in the summer just gone or this autumn will not have made any difference.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

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