This week (29 October 2019) the Government re-committed to providing billions of pounds of funding for roads, but failed to provide proper investment for walking and cycling.
Zak Bond, Living Streets’ Public Affairs and Policy Coordinator, blogs on what the budget means for walking, air pollution, and climate change.
With stark news about the effects of air pollution coming seemingly every week, and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on mitigating climate breakdown only recently off the press, the Government needed to prioritise spending on walking and cycling as part of any announcements on transport funding.
Unfortunately, Phillip Hammond failed to provide adequate funding for active travel in this year’s budget, instead (once more) prioritising money for roads.
A much higher level of investment in walking and cycling is needed to help tackle climate change, reduce toxic air pollution, and improve the nation’s health.
In advance of this year's budget, Joe Irvin, Living Streets' Chief Executive, argued that walking and cycling should “receive a fair share of the Government’s total transport spend” and that “this should start off at 5% of the transport budget in 2020/21 (around £17 for each person) and should rise to 10% (£34 per person) in 2024/5.”
Proper investment would ensure that we can create Walking Cities and better walking spaces for all. It would allow us to reimagine our streets as so much more than corridors for traffic; as enjoyable public spaces in which we play out our everyday lives. It would reduce the volume of traffic by encouraging and facilitating active travel and more efficient longer journeys by public transport.
Instead of this investment, which all members of Walking and Cycling Alliance are calling for, Government is “delivering the largest ever strategic roads investment package” which is “worth £28.8 billion from 2020-25".
The impact of this funding will be increased air pollution, greater levels of greenhouse gases, and continued motor vehicle dominance.
The UK Government must do more to invest in safe walking routes, cycling infrastructure, and green public transport.