The Government will fail on its pledge to double cycling by 2025 due to chronic underinvestment, according to calculations by charity Sustrans.
Over the next five years Government have dedicated just £316m on cycling across all of England, excluding London which has a different budget – a smaller amount than the £362m being spent on a new 17 mile stretch of the A46 in Nottinghamshire alone.
Calculations by Sustrans, which can be seen in a report published today, show that over the next 10 years an investment of £8.2bn will be needed to meet the target of doubling cycling levels – annually this is equivalent to 10% of the Government’s Transport budget for 2016/17. This would include developing 34,000km of new cycle routes and working with nine million households and 21,000 schools to enable behaviour change.
This equates to just £17.35 per person, per year. Sustrans claim that with the currently promised investment, both nationally and locally, cycling and walking programmes will be underfunded.
The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy – new legislation which was achieved thanks to campaigning work by Sustrans and others – now obliges Government to set out a long-term plan for boosting walking and cycling.
Under current plans Government will spend just £1.35 a year per person on boosting cycling. This falls short of its own pledge of £10 per person, and far shorter of the £17.35 which Sustrans has calculated is needed to reach the Government’s own target of doubling cycling.
Jason Torrance, Policy Director at Sustrans said: “Government has made a bold pledge to double cycling but has simply not provided the financial means to achieve this and to reap the many benefits. Redirecting money from the currently allocated to the Government’s £15bn road building programme would cut pollution and improve health.
“Government needs to use the strategy to work in partnership with local authorities and the business sector to tackle chronic local problems such as pollution, congestion and obesity by investing in cycling and walking solve many of these problems cheaply.”
Government has made a commitment to double the number of cycling trips made each year by 2025, based on 2013 levels of 800m trips, to 1.6bn trips. These can include journeys from A to B or trips made as part of a longer journey, such as cycling to a train station.
Sustrans have created a model to gauge how much investment would be needed to achieve this, based on the impact of previous investment. Calculations using DfT methods also showed that an investment of £8.2bn would create an economic benefit of £61bn – a cost/benefit ratio of nearly eight to one. Wherever estimates have been made, Sustrans erred towards caution in order to avoid optimism bias.
Jason Torrance will today give evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.