We are all facing a climate crisis. In the UK, transport accounts for 26% of greenhouse gas emissions, and most of that is from petrol and diesel cars.
Air pollution is damaging the health of everyone.
We keep building homes in places devoid of services making people car dependant and isolating those unable to access local services. And it’s the most vulnerable in society who are hardest hit.
However, we can change this.
Our vision is a society where the way we travel creates healthier places and happier lives for everyone
Sustrans has set out a positive vision of change to all politicians ahead of this general election.
Our vision is a society where the way we travel creates healthier places and happier lives for everyone.
Imagine living in a place where everything you need is within a 20-minute walk. Schools, shops, recreation and work is on your doorstep. Streets prioritise people with wide pavements, seating and cycle parking. Places you want to be, as well as places to move along.
Neighbourhood space is green space. Cars are guests on residential streets and are the exception around schools. Children play outside – like they always used to - as it feels safer. They walk and cycle to school again. A series of protected cycleways along main roads ensures people can get around by cycle safely.
You choose to walk and cycle because it is the easiest choice, not as a lifestyle statement. Public transport is easily accessible, cheap and frequent. There are some journeys you need to make by car but these are by exception, not the default And because you move every day, you are healthier. You see your neighbours and have a social connection to the place in which you live. It is a community.
Perhaps you live in a smaller village. You have a traffic-free set of paths for everyone that allows you to cycle to neighbouring towns where you visit the cinema or go to work. It’s a beautiful route with great views of the countryside as part of the National Cycle Network. It is for people of all ages and is shared with people walking, scooting, and using mobility scooters.
So, what can we do to make this happen?
By making it more convenient for people to walk and cycle, we will open up access to job opportunities; build more exercise into our daily lives; and help to address the climate crisis and air pollution by reducing car use, but to make this a reality we need investment.
Sustained long-term investment in walking and cycling
Firstly, we are calling on the next UK government to commit to long-term sustained funding investment for walking and cycling in order to create good quality safe infrastructure so that everyone feels more confident travelling around.
This sustained investment would be targeted at local infrastructure and programmes encouraging everyday walking and cycling trips. High-quality local cycle networks and neighbourhood schemes to rebalance our streets and make it easier and more pleasant to walk and cycle.
Also investment in vital supporting measures; for example, improving access to train stations and other public transport interchanges, along with cycle parking, hire and storage facilities.
As well as targeted programmes in schools, workplaces and community group settings for people of all ages to discover the joys and benefits of walking and cycling.
Investment in the National Cycle Network
Secondly, we are calling on the next UK government to invest £72 million per year in the National Cycle Network to improve the Network and achieve the £5 billion economic benefit to the economy annually in England by 2040.
The National Cycle Network is 16,000 miles of paths for walking and cycling that come within a mile of where over half the UK population lives. It is a local asset on a national scale that links communities, contributes to local economies, and enhances the social, physical and environmental wellbeing of those that come into contact with it.
We want it to become a network of paths for everyone but at present the quality of the Network varies, limiting its potential. To realise all the economic, social and environmental benefits that the Network could bring, we need to fix it. By 2040 we want to ensure that all of the Network is well surfaced and signed, traffic-free or on very quiet roads. We want to ensure no barriers remain that prevent access for everyone.
This manifesto sets out clear asks for the next UK government to show leadership on curbing road transport emissions and make walking and cycling the easiest and most convenient options for more people, regardless of gender, age, abilities and ethnicity as a matter of urgency.
Investment in good quality walking and cycling infrastructure is essential to making our nation happier and healthier and ensuring that the future is sustainable for generations to come.