Cycling UK has called latest findings showing that cycling traffic dropped by 5 per cent from last year "depressing", blaming the UK Government's "flawed" decision to slash the active travel budget, despite lagging behind its modest target of doubling the number of cycling journeys by 2025.
The new statistics for cycling traffic were published by the Department for Transport (DfT) yesterday. The decrease in cycling levels in England comes after the government decided to cut the active travel budget in March this year, described as a "backward move" by the Walking and Cycling Alliance at the time.
However, a recent inquiry by the National Audit Office into active travel in England confirmed Cycling UK’s claims that the government’s investment in active travel fell far short of what was needed to meet the 2025 walking and cycling targets – even before ministers made further cuts in March.
Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK said: "These statistics should be wake up call for the government, which has already been told in crystal clear terms by the National Audit Office that it can’t meet its own targets without substantially increasing investment in active travel.
"Multiple government polices recognise the carbon reduction, public health, air pollution and economic benefits which flow from more people cycling and walking, particularly for short journeys. It’s therefore imperative that the government reflects on these figures, and urgently reverses the cuts in the Autumn Statement."
In July last year, the government announced that it will invest £3.78bn in active travel schemes until 2025 as part of its refreshed cycling and walking investment strategy.
Trudy Harrison, the minister formerly responsible for active travel, said that the increased funding was part of an "ambitious" strategy to ensure that half of all journeys in towns and cities will be walked or cycled by the end of the decade.
However, following the cuts, Cycling UK joined its partners in the Walking and Cycling Alliance and more than 146 other organisations, including Campaign for Better Transport and Asthma + Lung UK, to write to the prime minister highlighting the disproportionate level of cuts to funding for cycling and walking infrastructure.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also recently indicated a U-turn on his own government’s stated support for low traffic neighbourhoods, ironically one of the measures local authorities can implement to enable more people to walk and cycle safely, at a time when the government is slashing central funding because they are relatively cheap to introduce.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.