UK government urged to protect active travel to ensure economic growth

Posted: 26 October 2022 | | No comments yet

A cross-sector group, led by Sustrans, urges the UK government to protect £4 billion worth of active travel investment to ensure the country’s economic growth.

UK government urged to protect active travel to ensure economic growth

Sustrans has announced that it has joined together with other organisations representing active travel, motoring, road safety, the environment and business leaders to urge the UK government to protect the £4 billion funding pot which is earmarked to help ‘level up’ walking and cycling across the country. 

The cross-sector group, led by Sustrans, has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, to emphasise the vital contribution of walking and cycling to the UK’s urban and rural economic growth and to society.

This comes after the launch of the charity’s brand new report which highlights that walking, wheeling and cycling generated £36.5 billion for the UK economy in 2021.

The letter calls for the protection of funding for cycling and walking, already committed in the second Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy 2022. According to Sustrans, it is important that this money is ringfenced, in order to foster aspirations for growth and to support people through the cost-of-living-crisis.

Xavier Brice, Sustrans CEO, said: “It’s clear that active forms of travel, such as walking and cycling, bring in billions of pounds of economic benefit. Plus, as people are hit by the cost-of-living-crisis, affordable ways of getting around are critical. People must have the opportunity to make the active travel choice instead of expensive car use, to boost people’s spending power for the benefit of the economy and our hopes of growth.”

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Furthermore, Sustrans’ Walking and Cycling Index shows that in 2021 walking, wheeling and cycling created £6.5 billion in economic benefit across the 17 urban areas surveyed. Extrapolated UK-wide, this equates to an overall annual benefit of £36.5 billion. 

In addition, people who walk to the high street have been found to spend up to 40 per cent more than those who drive, whilst physically active people take 27 per cent fewer sick days each year than their colleagues. 

Cycling and walking infrastructure also unlock housing developments, giving people more choices in how they travel and connecting them to work and education. 

Sarah Mitchell, CEO of Cycling UK, said: “As the cost-of-living hits us hard, everyone is looking to save money wherever they can. Many are turning to cycling for those shorter journeys – whether to work, school or the shops – that are essential for the UK’s growth agenda. It is essential that funding for cycling and walking is, at the very least, maintained at the current level of investment if we are to keep the nation moving and deliver the government’s own active travel strategy.”