Jason Torrance, Sustrans policy director, says that sustainable local travel in England faces a challenge and that there is a need for all political parties to build on the legacy of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) by committing to long term, dedicated funding for walking and cycling.
Writing at TransportXtra, Torrance says that the LSTF has begun to revolutionise the way people move around our town and cities, but he fears that allowing it to end in 2016 will have grave consequences. He refers to Prime Minister David Cameron’s vaunted ‘cycling revolution’ and says that allowing LSTF to end will not bring this about.
“Policy makers make positive noises about the value of walking and cycling for local journeys but the dedicated funding to support it will hit a brick wall in 2016 with the end of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF).”
This week it was announced that other funds have been made available – £114m for the Cycling Ambition Cities Programme over a three-year period and £100m for the planned successor body to the Highways Agency. However, Torrance contrasts this with the £24bn that will be spent on roads over this and the next Parliament.
He says that decades of transport policy have effectively marginalised walking and cycling, leaving many British people feeling as if they have no choice but to use the car.
“We know that as more people walk or cycle for their local journeys, public health improves, obesity reduces and roads become safer and less congested. By changing how people travel, we can create places where people want to live, work, shop and do business. But in order to achieve this we need to see a number of significant changes.
“Leadership must be backed by new legislation and statutory duties to make high quality provision for walking and cycling, as in the pioneering Active Travel (Wales) Bill. Road design guidance for walking and cycling lags behind many other EU countries. This must be addressed to make local provision easier and more consistent.”
Torrance also calls for cycle training as part of the standard school curriculum and for more 20mph areas which he says would encourage more families to walk and cycle. He then goes on to reiterate the demand for a long-term cycling budget of at least £10 per person to year, increasing to £20.
“Looking back over the past four years of the LSTF and the valuable legacy it has left, local policy makers need to reflect on the lessons for the future. Nationally we need all political parties to build on that legacy by committing to long term, dedicated funding for walking and cycling that can support local decision makers to carry forward the legacy of the LSTF.”