With today’s launch of the first ever UK Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) we have reached a significant milestone along the path of making cycling and walking the natural choice for short journeys. The challenge now is to deliver the change needed locally and nationally.
Since our Campaign for Safer Streets was launched in May 2014 we’ve been calling for long-term, dedicated funding for walking and cycling, particularly to help children travel to school by foot and bike. Working together with a number of other leading transport and health organisations we were successful in securing a commitment from government to the production of a strategy back in 2015.
We know that investing in cycling and walking has huge and wide-ranging benefits. A recently published evaluation of the 2013-14 Linking Communities programme, which links people to areas of economic activity and local facilities through active travel, shows what can be achieved. Each of the 45 schemes had large health benefits of £1.5 million over 30 years and 6.2 FTE jobs per £1 million spent.
Furthermore, as part of our Bike Life - a collaboration with seven cities in the UK towards making cycling an attractive and everyday means of travel - we now understand there is a huge appetite for change. Results from the biggest survey ever conducted on attitudes to cycling in the UK couldn’t be clearer: there’s a desire to cycle more but a lack of safe places to ride bikes is off-putting.
We also know that there is huge potential for everyday travel by foot or bicycle in urban areas where the majority of people live and journey distances are typically shortest. Safety, however, is an issue. We can only realise the potential of cycling and walking by improving infrastructure and the built environment.
This will require political leadership and bold plans – nationally and locally, to create safe, joined-up, attractive streets for people of all ages and abilities to walk and cycle on. As our journey along the path continues, our speed towards cycling and walking being the natural choice for short journeys has surely been quickened by the government’s first ever CWIS.