A 60-strong group of parliamentarians from all parties, have put their names to a letter calling for the recent cuts in England’s active travel budget to be reversed.
Earlier this year, the active travel budget was reduced by at least £200 million, about two thirds of the budget.
Organisations opposed to the cuts were quick to point out that active travel contributed £36.5 billion to the UK economy in 2021, took up to 14.6 million cars off the road and prevented 2.5m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, reports Air Quality News.
Sustrans has also said these cuts will make it impossible for the UK Government to meet its own 2050 net-zero targets and the goal for 50% of journeys in towns and cities being walked or cycled by 2030.
In an open letter delivered to 10 Downing Street, the group of cross-party parliamentarians urged the Prime Minister to reverse the recently announced cuts to active travel funding and provide the necessary funding to ensure everyone can access cycling and its economic, social and environmental benefits.
The letter said: “In March, the Transport Secretary announced that active travel funding would be cut, an overall two-thirds reduction in capital dedicated to improving active travel infrastructure over the next two years. This will make it impossible to reach the Government’s crucial 2050 net-zero targets and the goal of 50% of all journeys in English towns and cities being walked or cycled by 2030. This funding cut is disappointing as it provided funding for investment into active travel infrastructure, which is vital to ensuring increased uptake of sustainable modes of transport.”
The letter went on to say: “Over the years, there has been much progress in encouraging all forms of active travel, particularly cycling. But now is not the ?me to reduce funding, with research showing the vast economic, environmental and social benefits of cycling and other forms of active travel. It is estimated that active travel contributed £36.5 billion to the UK economy in 2021 and prevented 2.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from being released.”
Signatories included APPG for Cycling and Walking Co-Chairs Selaine Saxby and Ruth Cadbury, Conservative MPs Sally-Ann Hart, Sir Peter Bottomley and Andrew Selous, along with others including Baroness Natalie Bennett and Grahame Morris MP
Julian Scriven. MD of Brompton Bike Hire said: “It has been incredibly disappointing to watch the Government row back on a decade of progress in cycling by cutting active travel budgets, which in turn create barriers to achieving crucial political priorities.
“As the level of cross-party support shows, Brompton are far from alone in viewing these cuts as misguided, ill-conceived, and counterproductive. We need to be backing cycling and British cycling manufacturers without which the Government stands no chance of hitting its cycling, health, and environmental targets.”
Flick Drummond MP, Conservative MP for Meon Valley said: “Ensuring that the UK is Net Zero by 2050 is rightly a crucial priority for the Government, but the cuts to active travel funding make this target significantly harder.
“Without the modest funding that was committed to active travel, we put at risk not only the progress we have made but increasing the numbers of people taking up cycling as a hobby or mode of transport. Cycling is an option open to all and is a key part of our transport mix and we should be doing everything to incentivise people to take up cycling and enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle.
“Across the political divide, we know that these cuts put at risk incentivising active lifestyles, encouraging growth in cycling, and our own environmental commitments. I, therefore, urge the Government to restore Active Travel England funding as soon as possible.”