Funding boost for walking and cycling schemes is a step in the right direction, says The Ramblers

People walking in brightonThe Ramblers welcomes the announcement of a £22 million funding boost for walking and cycling schemes over the next year and the publication of the Government’s review of walking and cycling interventions.

The latest government commitment is positive news, but there is still much work to be done to make walking the natural choice for journeys. Government commitments to sustainable transport must be supported by long-term funding for walking and cycling. For too long, investment in walking and cycling has been short-term and piecemeal, despite the significant and cost-effective contributions these modes of transport make towards tackling challenges such as physical inactivity, air pollution, congestion, climate change and high street regeneration. The forthcoming budget on 11 March is a critical opportunity to secure long-term investment in walking and active travel. 

Half of car trips made every year are under two miles, with 42% of the public admitting that they could walk these shorter car journeys (National Travel Attitudes Study 2019). In 2019, the Transport Select Committee recognised that the huge potential for increasing walking journeys was not reflected in government walking targets. The Ramblers, along with our partners in the Walking and Cycling Alliance, are calling on government to set a more ambitious target for walking - from 300 stages per person per year to 365 stages per person per year in 2025.

Along with greater ambition and funding for walking and cycling, the Ramblers is calling for a shift in mindset about transport and what government funded transport schemes should be required to deliver for people. For many decades, transport planning and practice has been focussed on delivering roads and infrastructure to get cars moving. But with a growing inactivity crisis, the threat of poor air quality and climate emergency, it’s more important than ever for government to recognise that transport plays a significant role in shaping the character of our towns and cities. Transport improvements must not only prioritise walking and other forms of active travel, but also contribute to the greening of our streets and public spaces. Combining active travel routes with green, pleasant, nature rich surroundings has been shown to increase the take up of walking and cycling in other cities around the world. This helps people across communities to meet physical activity targets and realise the health and wellbeing benefits associated with spending two hours a week in nature.