The Department for Transport (DfT) has cut £380M of the £710M promised in 2021 for the UK’s active travel budget, according to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling & Walking (APPGCW).
In a statement written by secretary of state for transport Mark Harper last week, it was announced that £100M would be spent on active travel in the next two years, reports New Civil Engineer.
The £230M already having been spent so far, according to the APPGCW, the amount cut for active travel has more than halved from the Spending Review in 2021, which set out the £710M spending plans.
APPGCW co-chairs Ruth Cadbury and Selaine Saxby jointly stated: “It is incredibly disappointing that the active travel budget has seen successive cuts at a time when we need to really make progress on decarbonisation and when people need cheap transport choices.
“We’ve witnessed the popularity of active travel increase in the capital but other parts of England will now not benefit from the same quality transport system. London now has three times as much funding per year for active travel than the rest of England combined.”
The Walking and Cycling Alliance (WCA), a body consisting of British Cycling, Living Streets, Ramblers and Sustrans, stated Harper’s announcement means at least a two-thirds cut to promised capital investment in walking and cycling.
Mr Harper’s statement claims £850M has been spent on active travel by the government since 2020.
It continues: “Despite the need to deliver efficiency in all areas of our budget, we will still commit to spend at least a further £100M capital into active travel over the remainder of the spending period, as part of a total of around £3bn investment in active travel over this parliament, including from City and Region Sustainable Transport settlements and National Highways. We will review these levels as soon as practically possible.”
Conservative mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and West Midlands Cycling and Walking commissioner Adam Tranter wrote to active travel minister Jesse Norman urging the DfT to rethink the new figures.
The letter reads: “The £710M approved for active travel in the 2021 Spending Review was hugely welcomed by the West Midlands.
“However, yesterday’s announcement represents a reduction of £380m from that commitment. This is a very deep cut at a time where we urgently need to decarbonise, provide people with low-cost transport options, and work to improve the nation’s health.
“Given the current economic challenges we appreciate that difficult spending decisions have to be made, especially in the DfT’s capital programme. However, what seems incredibly difficult to justify is the disproportionate cut in the active travel budget.
“No other transport schemes can be delivered as quickly and cost-effectively as active travel, with benefit-cost ratios of 4.7 to 32.8 for cycling schemes compared to 3.1 to 5.1 for road schemes.”
Mr Harper referenced “headwinds” the government was facing from inflation in relation to the Russia-Ukraine War and supply chain disruptions arising from the pandemic, said the report.
The statement reads: “These headwinds have made it difficult to deliver on our capital programmes, and we recognise that some schemes are going to take longer than expected. Refocusing our efforts will allow us to double down on delivering the rest of our capital programme.
“This will place our transport investments on a sustainable footing and allow us to support the government’s priorities of halving inflation, growing the economy and reducing debt.”
Adam Tranter, founder of Bike is Best added: “The kind of change that we need for the future to hit our net zero targets and to give people the dignity of choice in transport is really wide ranging. We have got the money to do some stuff but we haven’t got enough money to really hit those net zero goals>”