Where I live in Northumberland was designated as a Sustrans Active Travel town years ago and you can see how habits are changing with more cyclists and walkers passing my home each day. Not only dog walkers and recreational cyclists but pedalling commuters and busy Walking for Health groups.
There are more children on wheels as well, pedalling or scooting to and from school and learning road safety through regular supervised group sessions. It’s not a revolution but it is a steady shift in activity, expectations and road safety.
An alliance of walking and cycling organisations has urged the UK Government to seriously commit to funding significant improvements in active travel, following the publication last month of a report on active travel by the Commons Transport Select Committee.
Responding to the report, Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Cycling UK, on behalf of the Walking and Cycling Alliance (WACA) said, “Investing in safe, convenient and attractive conditions for cycling and walking is a hugely cost-effective way to deliver a wide range of benefits, and we commend MPs from the select committee for their diligence in understanding the urgency of this issue.
“After the Government admitted its current policies will only deliver a third of what is needed to meet its 2025 cycling targets, it’s now vital that it seriously commits to improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure, to benefit communities across the country and to meet its own environmental and health ambitions.
“We share the opinion of the previous transport minister that the walking target is too low; we need a new target which is much more ambitious. Interventions aimed at increasing levels of walking are very cost-effective and should complement infrastructure spending. They will also be integral in helping to prevent a series of long-term illnesses from physical inactivity, including stroke and dementia.
“We are encouraged that the Government has commissioned research into what additional resources are needed to meet its cycling and walking targets. We now urge them to publish its findings and act on them as soon as possible.”
The Walking and Cycling Alliance was established in 2018 and is made up of six organisations promoting walking and cycling: British Cycling, Cycling UK, Living Streets, Sustrans, The Bicycle Association and The Ramblers. Its vision is for everybody to be able to live, work and play in places that are healthy, vibrant and that make walking and cycling the natural choice for short journeys – now and for future generations.
Don’t just read reports on national initiatives or write to your MP but meet with local councillors to find out, influence and manage what’s happening in your area.