Cycling UK urges rethink over deep cuts to active travel budget

Cycling UK has issued a stark warning that active travel in the UK cannot withstand the deep budget cuts outlined by the new Conservative Government if the UK is to clean up its transport act.

The Conservatives’ Chris Heaton-Harris offered very little in budgetary terms at the recent Brompton-held hustings for active travel, actually pledging to cut funding while simultaneously describing forward plans as “transformative”.

That has been picked up upon by Cycling UK, with Chief Executive Paul Tuohy stating:

“Cycling UK is alarmed at the prospect of a new government slashing the level of funding for cycling in England to less than a quarter of its current levels for the next five years.

“The Conservatives in their manifesto have promised to spend just £70m a year on cycling infrastructure, opening up a chasm between what has been promised and what is actually needed.

“Former Transport Minister Jesse Norman conceded that funding would have to be at least doubled to meet the Government’s current target to double cycling trips by 2025, but from next April there is absolutely zero money earmarked for local authorities for cycling and walking infrastructure.

“The Conservative manifesto commitment would see the current £7 per head being spent on walking and cycling in England, outside of London cut to just £1.55 per head. This would be an abject failure by this incoming government to address the climate, air pollution, congestion and inactivity-related health crises the country is now facing.

“That’s why we will be writing to Boris Johnson demanding an urgent re-evaluation of his party’s spending pledge if he is truly serious about making the country ‘the greenest, cleanest on earth’.

For context, £70 million would buy just 48 kilometres of top-level safe cycling infrastructure, which costs around £1.45 million per kilometre to create.

Cycling as a transport form has among the highest cost to benefit ratios when factoring in congestion relief, pollution reduction, retail improvement and other social factors.