Cambridge MP Julian Huppert is demanding changes to the new Infrastructure Bill, which will go before parliament on Monday for final scrutiny. The current proposals include a commitment to road investment, but a number of sustainable travel organisations would like to see something similar for cycling and walking.
Huppert joins Labour’s Ian Austin, Conservative Sarah Wollaston and Green Caroline Lucas in supporting an amendment to the motion.
“I want to make sure that future governments give cycling and walking priority on their spending plans. The only way we can be certain that will happen is to write it into legislation.
“It is so important that we have a long-term strategy, if we are serious about promoting cycling and walking. If we are to tackle the obesity crisis in our country we must encourage people to follow healthier lifestyles. Cycling and walking are two excellent activities, costing very little yet promoting a healthier way of life and a greener environment.”
Sustrans is one of a number of organisations calling for cycling to be added to the Infrastructure Bill with Claire Francis, the organisation’s head of campaigns, pointing to a recent YouGov survey in which over half of those questioned said they would support increased spending on safe cycling routes in their area, even if it meant less would be spent on things that benefit other road users.
“Despite these new figures, the Infrastructure Bill, which the government hopes to make law by March, is set to deliver the biggest shake up to the roads network in a generation, yet has no strategy for cycling. We must change the Infrastructure Bill’s narrow focus on motor traffic and invest in cycling to extend travel choice, to ease congestion, improve our health and our environment.
“The cross-party amendment being proposed for this bill would provide a great opportunity to guarantee long term funding and ensure much safer cycling for everyone, whilst securing support from voters.”
Sustrans, alongside a host of other organisations, including British Cycling, CTC and the Campaign For Better Transport have issued a joint statement asking people to write to their MPs. The statement cites a 12-year study from Cambridge University which found that inactivity is killing twice as many people as obesity and highlights the fact that inactivity costs the UK economy £20 billion every year, with one in six deaths linked to physical inactivity.
“This is why we are supporting an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill to include a cycling and walking investment strategy – to provide the long-term commitment to funding that is so desperately needed to increase levels of cycling and walking for the health of our nation. We urge as many people to write to their MP as possible this week to ask them to put their name to this important amendment and help turn the tide of physical inactivity.
“Our coalition supporting this amendment to the Infrastructure Bill is comprised of leading organisations in this area. Together we represent countless members of the public who are all clamouring for a bill that reflects the importance of walking and cycling in the 21st century.”
The proposed cycling and walking strategy comprises four parts:
- A long-term vision to increase walking and cycling rates across the whole population, in rural as well as urban areas
- A ‘Statement of Funds Available’ for the next five years that would be spent specifically on cycling and walking
- A detailed Investment Plan of programmes and schemes – for example to improve cycle-rail integration, retrofit safe walking and cycling paths along busy roads and give provincial towns and cities London-style cycling measures and exemplary public spaces
- A Performance Specification of measures and targets - for example increases in cycling and walking levels, improvement in safety, and the proportion of schools and stations with safe routes to them.