Majority want funding shift from road building to active travel, survey finds

Deniz Huseyin
05 April 2024


Funding for road building should instead be spent on active travel and public transport, believe the majority of respondents to the new Walking and Cycling Index from Sustrans.

A survey of 21,374 residents aged 16 or above in 18 UK cities found 56% in favour and only 17% against moving money from road building to active travel and public transport.

It found that 58% of respondents support more segregated cycle paths along roads, even if this removes space for cars, while 22% are opposed.

Over a third (36%) often use a car as they feel they have no choice while a quarter (24%) want to drive less, and 15% want to drive more.

The surveys are representative of all residents, not just those who walk, wheel or cycle, Sustrans points out.

Alongside the survey, carried out by Social research organisation NatCen, the report includes local walking, wheeling and cycling data and modelling. 

Data shows that, yearly, active travel benefits the Index city economies by £6.1bn, while preventing over 21,000 serious long-term health conditions, reports Sustrans.

In addition, journeys walked, wheeled or cycled in 2023 prevented 420,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions entering the atmosphere, it adds.

Among other key findings, the survey revealed that 65% support banning vehicles parking on the pavement while 16% are opposed; and 50% support installation of School Streets – closing streets outside schools to cars during drop-off and pick-up times while 24% disagree.

Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans, said: “The evidence shows that people want to have the choice to walk, cycle, and use public transport. Moving forwards isn’t about forcing people out of their cars. It is about making it easy for people to travel how they would actually prefer to, which also improves public health, the economy and our environment.”

He added: “We’ve seen real improvement in the cities we’ve surveyed over the last 10 years, but there is a long way to go to make active travel work for everyone. Now the opportunity is for government at all levels to listen to what people want and shift future investment to options that benefit us all.” 

Sustrans published its first survey (formerly called Bike Life) in 2015. The new Index offers a snapshot of walking, wheeling and cycling provision and modelled data of the benefits across 23 urban areas in the UK and Ireland.

The Walking and Cycling Index 2023

Urban areas in Sustrans’ new Walking and Cycling Index






Cork Metropolitan Area

Dublin Metropolitan Area




Galway Metropolitan Area


Greater Cambridge

Greater Manchester


Limerick Metropolitan Area

Liverpool City Region

London Borough of Tower Hamlets


Southampton City Region



Waterford Metropolitan Area

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