The UK Government has released a long-term ‘Cycling and Walking Plan’, the Highway Code Consultation and updated cycling infrastructure guidance – measures which Sustrans has long campaigned for, together with other members of the Walking and Cycling Alliance.
This announcement, hot on the heels of the new obesity strategy, marks a big step forward by the UK Government, and one which is warmly welcomed by Sustrans. By helping more people to leave the car at home for shorter journeys, this package of measures will cut pollution, tackle the causes of poor health, and improve the safety of our streets. Sustrans supports efforts to radically improve the quality of walking and cycling infrastructure. The majority of the public supports investment in walking and cycling, and it is now vital that the benefits of walking and cycling are felt by everyone.
The announcement sees plans to establish Active Travel England, a new government-body which we understand will be a statutory consultee on planning applications. Sustrans welcomes the creation of Active Travel England, which will have a key role in supporting local authorities to deliver this important agenda, ensuring public money is invested wisely and design standards are enforced.
Making sure cycling and walking is at the heart of all planned new developments from the start, including properly linking routes to public transport, is a big part of realising the potential of healthy, liveable neighbourhoods for generations to come and opening up access to vital services on foot or by cycle for everyone.
Today, Sustrans has published a report called Cycling for Everyone promoting moves to help more diverse groups of people walk and cycle more. Sustrans’ inclusive cycling report, launched today with Arup, contains a number of recommendations to help make cycling more inclusive. It shows that 55% of people from ethnic minority groups who currently don’t cycle would like to, compared to 37% of white people – the potential is huge.
Many of the actions outlined from the Government such as radically improving the quality of walking and cycling infrastructure, introducing low-traffic neighbourhoods and cycle training for all people will reduce existing inequalities in cycling. As custodians of the National Cycle Network, we hugely welcome the initial commitment to long-term funding and support for the UK’s national network of cycling and walking paths.
This will accelerate the work of Sustrans and our many partners to invest in routes, create new traffic-free sections, and improve signage and surfaces. By doing this, together we can achieve our shared vision of a traffic-free network of paths for everyone, for all to travel on and explore, regardless of gender, age or ability.
Xavier Brice is chief executive of the walking and cycling charity Sustrans
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