Thank you to all those who contacted me about active travel funding.
Transport remains the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gases in the UK, with the majority of emissions from domestic transport coming from road vehicles. Decarbonising our transport sector is one of the most pressing challenges we face if we are to meet our net zero goals. By getting people to engage more in active travel, we will improve air quality, help lower emissions, reduce congestion and improve physical health.
The Government’s major cut to the active travel budget is a short-sighted decision that will harm public health and hit air quality, as well as costing the taxpayer. My concern is that this is another broken promise. I know that a coalition of more than 100 charities, organisations and businesses have written to the Prime Minister about the cuts, expressing their disappointment. They describe them as a “backward move for the economy, the climate and health”.
The Department for Transport’s own analysis shows that active travel investments have an expected ‘benefit-to-cost’ ratio of £5.62 for every £1 spent. This ratio means the budget cut could end up costing £2.1 billion in the longer term.
In addition, even before it announced this cut, the amount of money the Government had said it needed to meet its cycling and walking objectives to 2025 was more than the amount it had originally committed.
Investment in walking and cycling has huge benefits for public health and the economy. I want to see us lead a shift away from private cars and be ambitious on investment in active travel. We need to get people more engaged in active travel, whether that is cycling on conventional bicycles, e-bikes, e-cargo bikes or walking.
However, unless would-be cyclists feel safe, they will not make that shift and I know many people feel that the roads are too dangerous to cycle on. We need increased ambitions for the redesigning of urban spaces and investment in bus and rail, including enabling more cities, towns and rural areas to develop local mobility plans.