General Election 2017: Sustrans cycling and walking manifesto asks

By Rachel White,
Family cycling on a quiet road in a city

With a snap election called, we have united with other cycling and walking organisations to call on political parties to make three key commitments in their manifestos.

In a time when we are facing record congestion on our roads; a physical inactivity epidemic and obesity crisis; and poor air quality, it has never been more important to invest in measures to help families walk and cycle more journeys.

What are we calling for?

Sustrans along with Cycling UK, Living Streets, Campaign for Better Transport, British Cycling, The Bicycle Association and The Ramblers has written to all English MPs calling for them to push for their parties to make the following commitments in their party manifestos ahead of the Election on 8 June:

a)    A UK-wide commitment to a new Clean Air Act

Up to 40,000 early deaths are attributable to air pollution each year in the UK and road transport is responsible for 80% of the pollution where legal limits are being broken. When over two-thirds of UK trips undertaken are under five miles, shifting trips to zero emission transport such as walking and cycling has never been more important.

A new Clean Air Act would tackle the sources of modern air pollution such as diesel and accelerate the shift to zero emission transport including cycling and walking. The Act would also safeguard the legal protections that we may lose on leaving the EU and enshrine the right to breathe clean air in law.

b)    A commitment to invest the proceeds from the proposed ‘Roads Fund’ to improve local roads and streets, designing and maintaining them to be safe and pleasant for all who use them

The commitment in the 2015 Budget to create a ring-fenced ‘Roads Fund’ solely given to Highways England will further inflate the Government's significant road-building plans while marginalising local transport. Current plans up to 2020 see more than £1.1 million per mile being invested in maintaining national roads - which make up just 3% of all roads.

This level of investment contrasts starkly with the £27,000 per mile investment available to maintain local roads that make up 97% of England's road network.

There is a need to improve local roads and give people real choice in how they travel. Investment in local roads and in cycling and walking can help all road users by reducing road traffic. Any Roads Fund should be broadened to allow investment in local roads.

c)    Reaffirm the commitments in the UK Government's Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy for England

If we can increase levels of walking and cycling, the benefits are substantial. For people, it means cheaper travel and better health. For businesses, it means increased productivity and increased footfall in shops. And for society as a whole, it means lower congestion, better air quality and vibrant, attractive places and communities.

Within the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy are three commitments that need to be reaffirmed:

  1. Double cycling, where cycling activity is measured as the estimated total number of cycle stages made each year, from 0.8 billion stages in 2013 to 1.6 billion stages in 2025.
  2. Increase walking activity, where walking activity is measured as the total number of walking stages per person per year, to 300 stages per person per year in 2025.
  3. Increase the percentage of children aged 5 to 10 that usually walk to school from 49% in 2014 to 55% in 2025.

As much of the policy area that Sustrans operates in is devolved, we have made separate manifesto calls to parties in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Please contact their offices if you would like further information on these.