How can we make it easier for everyone to walk, wheel, and cycle in Wales?

We’ve just released our five steps to improve our neighbourhoods, health and the economy after the general election.

Transport is devolved to the Welsh Government, but MPs elected in Wales have an important role to play if we’re going to unlock the potential for more walking, wheeling and cycling.

This includes making representations to the Welsh Government and local councils and supporting progress across the UK.


Why this matters in Wales

People support making it easier for people to walk, wheel and cycle more journeys.

For example, our Walking and Cycling Index 2023 surveyed people in Cardiff.

It found that 54% of people support shifting investment from road building to supporting walking and wheeling, cycling and public transport, so they have more choice about how they travel.

Meanwhile, the dominance of cars on our streets often prevents children in Wales from having a healthy, active childhood.

There’s a lack of safe space for children to play in and too few traffic-free cycle routes for them to ride their bikes.

In Cardiff, only 31% of people say their streets are safe for children cycling.

Our five steps

People want to walk, wheel, and cycle more of their everyday journeys.

But inaccessible pavements, unsafe streets, poor links with public transport, and the costs of bike ownership are holding them back.

That’s bad news for people’s health, the places they live and for our economy.


We can change that if we:

  1. Make our streets safe for children
  2. Give everyone access to a bike
  3. Build developments where all the essentials are close by
  4. Make the National Cycle Network work for everyone
  5. Create a transport strategy that works for everyone

How we can do this in Wales

Our five steps are important wherever people are. In Wales, MPs can help us achieve them by focusing on the following areas:


Supporting the Active Journeys Programme

Our Active Journeys Programme is funded by the Welsh Government and is helping children across the country to safely, easily and confidently travel to school by foot, bike and scooter.

In 2021-22, the number of children walking, wheeling or cycling to school at participating schools increased by 24.6%, while car use decreased by 29.9%

MPs should support this programme so that we can give this opportunity to as many children as possible in the future.

Pushing for quick action on pavement parking

Councils should have the power to stop vehicles being parked on pavements.

Not only would it help children get around, but it would help all pedestrians, particularly disabled people.

Two-thirds of adults support stopping parking on pavements – this would be a popular quick win.

Sustrans was a member of the independent Wales Pavement Parking Taskforce, set up in 2019 by the Welsh Government to help tackle anti-social pavement parking in our communities.

Its report concluded that pavement parking is a serious problem across Wales and that the Government should take steps to deal with it as a matter of some urgency.

The Welsh Government accepted the report’s recommendations and committed to consult and to introduce legislation by the end of 2023.

Later, the start of consultation was delayed to 2024.

MPs should push for the Welsh Government to consult on pavement parking proposals and to legislate as soon as possible and vote to support tackling pavement parking across the UK.

Backing council action to make streets safe for children

Every parent should be able to let their children play, meet friends and get around their neighbourhood without worrying about risks from traffic.

A healthy, active childhood can lead to a lifetime of health benefits, from better mental health to lower levels of obesity.

With health inequalities widening across Wales, we need to give every child the best start in life.

Councils across Wales are taking action to make our streets safer, creating safe routes to school, implementing ‘School Streets’ and reducing speeds on roads.

MPs have a key role in making these a success, by making sure that their constituents know about them, championing the benefits and feeding back where changes need to be made.


Championing the National Cycle Network

The National Cycle Network is an extraordinary national treasure that connects people and places throughout Wales, extending over 1,600 miles through every constituency, with almost 60% of the population living within a mile.

It is an unrivalled source of well-being, a place for people to be active, a space for socialising and for access to green spaces.

We have the ambition to continue to improve it and to extend further.

Maintaining the Network we have is already a challenge. Along its many miles, we have natural habitats, historic infrastructure, and challenging terrain.

We want to make it more accessible for everyone, more resilient and more biodiverse.

A local MP can help more people experience the benefits of the Network by supporting the case for maintaining these routes and championing the National Cycle Network’s value to Wales and the UK.

Shifting more resources into active travel

Wales’ funding to help more people walk, wheel and cycle has increased significantly since 2018, when the Active Travel Fund was established, and a funding target for active travel of up to £20 per person was set.

However, this funding doesn’t go as far after years of inflation.

In Scotland spending has significantly outpaced Wales, now at £58 per person for active travel.

Welsh MPs can support active travel by calling for transport investment in their constituencies to be shifted towards walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport.

In particular, they should sponsor Levelling Up Fund bids which make it easier for people to walk, wheel or cycle. Constituencies also cross local authority boundaries, so MPs can bring local leaders together to ensure that regional active travel networks are developed.

Download our election manifesto

Read more about the five steps we're calling on the next UK government to take to make it easier for everyone to walk, wheel, and cycle.


Download our manifesto.