The UK’s largest walking and cycling charity has called on local authorities and central government to guarantee protected cycle lanes on main road routes to schools.
Sustrans has said that doing this would help embed new active travel habits of people across the UK forced to change the way they travel during the cost of living crisis, and that it must be an urgent priority for the new Truss government.
The call comes ahead of Cycle to School Week (3rd-7th October), an annual event led this year by The Bikeability Trust in partnership with Sustrans, in which pupils and families will cycle to school instead of travelling by car.
The aim of the themed week is to encourage crucial behaviour change in young people, to choose to travel actively rather than by car as they move into adult life. But, for it to be a success, Xavier Brice, Chief Executive of Sustrans, said long term barriers to feeling welcome and safe on the road had to be removed.
He said: “Engaging this generation of younger school pupils with cycling and teaching them the importance of travelling actively, will only have lasting impact if we all strive to make sure children and families feel safe and welcome on the road. That’s why this Cycle to School Week, Sustrans calls on Local Authority leaders and the Government to show real ambition and commit to installing protected cycle lanes along main road routes to schools.
“Enabling and encouraging families across the UK that are suffering financially to choose to travel actively would demonstrate commitment to a new transport hierarchy in which the car is not king, for the sake of our wallets, our health and our planet.”
In a study of 26,000 people, the Sustrans Walking and Cycling Index (2021) found that 65% of respondents want cycle tracks that are physically protected from traffic.
Crucially, the Index found 58% of residents on low incomes would like more government spending on walking and wheeling.
Sustrans says it recognises that people are trying to choose to travel actively and reducing car use, and has called for an embedding of infrastructure to support this lasting change.
It adds that walking, wheeling and cycling should be prioritised as active forms of transport to address the UK’s most serious priorities: health problems caused by inactivity; air pollution from motor transport; and freeing people from the expensive and restrictive lifestyles of car overuse.
Xavier Brice added: “With new leadership from Prime Minister Truss, there is fresh opportunity to renew our transport priorities for what the UK people need. It is vital active travel is embedded into in our transport system and that roads are safer for all.”