Governments should be diverting a fifth of their transport budgets to sustainable active transport like walking and cycling, a new UN report has said.
The call, which the UN says will save lives and make populations healthier, and improve the environment.
The report, entitled "Global outlook on walking and cycling”, warns that as the world’s population nears nine billion, “we need to design mobility for our people instead of mobility for our cars”.
Erick Solheim, executive director, UN Environment, said: "Scaling up that kind of change starts by deciding to take the first step, which can be as simple as creating a cycling and walking policy."
The report also recognised that one of the major barriers to cycling around the world was safety concerns.
It notes: “There is an urgent need to improve this environment and significantly reduce the risks of injury or death, and facilitate a shift to lower carbon modes.”
The report has five recommendations for national and city policy makers to save lives, reduce pollution and get cities moving
- Introduce a national or city non-motorised transport policy if you don’t have one. If you do have a policy do you need to revise it?
- Set aside at least 20% of the total transport budget to fund non-motorised transport programmes at national and city level.
- Set quantifiable and measurable goals, then collect the data you need and evaluate your success. If you don’t know if and how your policy is working, you won’t know whether you are heading in the right direction. Have the courage to change course.
- Access and mobility affects everyone and almost every area of our lives. So include a diverse range of stakeholders in your planning and implementation. Ask users where they walk or ride and what they need. Pay particular attention to more vulnerable users, such as women, children, the elderly and people with mobility challenges.
- Don’t try to replicate what other cities or countries do without taking your local context into account. ’Political will’ is not only about developing and implementing policies, but about actively championing non-motorised transport as a mode of equal status to private cars. For as long as non-motorised transport is seen as a low-status alternative, it will not receive the road space, budgets and attention it deserves.