Active travel is good for the economy, cycle & pedestrian groups tell HM Treasury ahead of the chancellor's Autumn Statement

Cycle & pedestrian organisations submit joint plan to HM Treasury

Sustrans, CTC, British Cycling, the Bicycle Association and Living Streets (formerly the Pedestrians’ Association) have submitted a joint document to HM Treasury in an attempt to influence the chancellor to spend more on "active travel" in his Autumn Statement.

The joint submission is called "Accelerating a cycling and walking revolution" and was delivered to HM Treasury yesterday. The policy document starts by saying "when more people cycle or walk, public health improves, obesity reduces and roads become less congested and safer."

It further promises that "by changing how people travel, we can create places where people want to live, work, shop and do business. We can make people healthier, happier and wealthier. We can reduce costs to our NHS."

According to the five organisations too many people in the UK feel "they have no choice but to travel in ways that are dangerous, unhealthy, polluting and costly, not just to their own wallets but also to the public purse."

The organisations stress that urgent action is required to address Britain’s chronic levels of obesity, heart disease, air pollution and congestion.

"In towns and cities, creating cycling and walking environments defines a 21st century city," asserts the joint document, emphasising the economic benefits of more active travel.

"Across the world, from Paris to New York, from Edinburgh to Dublin, forward-thinking cities are investing hundreds of millions of pounds in making their cities places where travel choice and quality of life are at their heart, knowing that well-designed places can attract people, business and visitors, delivering benefits far greater than their relatively modest costs."

Currently, HM Treasury eyes up the money generated by Britain’s "car culture" and tends to ignore the economic, health and well-being benefits of spending less time in cars.

Sustrans, CTC, British Cycling, the Bicycle Association and Living Streets want to impress on the chancellor that in The Netherlands, 27 percent of journeys are made by bike, followed by Denmark on 19 percent.

"Britain however languishes towards the lower end of the European league table, with less than 2 percent. At the same time, we are seeing a long term decline is walking rates," state the organisations.

"Funding schemes like the Local Sustainable Transport Fund have lit the way, and proven that investment in cycling and walking can return dramatic results … Our economy is in recovery, but if this growth is to be sustained it is vital that we are able to compete internationally to attract inward investment to our shores, offer a transport infrastructure that supports business and re-engage the most economically inactive members of society."

The organisations worry that "more and more people are interacting with the world around them from behind the wheel of a car or from in front of a computer screen" and stress that "public spaces that are dominated by traffic and pollution or blighted by out-dated design and poor maintenance are actively deterring people getting out and about – and hastening our change to a society where different social/cultural groups exist in parallel, with little understanding between them."

The joint submission calls on the Treasury to fund a "coordinated programme of high profile cycling networks which provide convenient and desirable routes linking the urban centre, business district, shopping areas and transport hubs to the suburbs to ensure cycling is a viable alternative to public transport and car travel for journeys under 5 miles."

Further, it wants the government to extend the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Grants up to 2021 and to include cycling and walking.

"Widening the existing programme would build on the 2012/13 -2014/15 investment of £77m already invested in 7 cities that now each have a 10 year ambitious programmes," says the joint statement.

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