Sustrans has asked the government to increase investment in walking and cycling after claiming that its National Cycle Network has saved the UK economy more than £7 billion since it was first established, 20 years ago.
Physical inactivity costs the UK economy around £20 billion every year and the charity calculates that over £6 billion of its claimed savings have come from reducing health costs. According to The Telegraph, the calculations were made using the Department for Transport’s official appraisal framework, webTAG, which is the framework used to assess the impact of different traffic systems.
Researchers also estimated that Sustrans routes had helped save businesses £200 million by decreasing the number of sick days taken, while reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and reduced traffic congestion were also said to have contributed to savings.
Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans Chief Executive, said:
“To make walking and cycling local journeys an option for everyone we need the new government to provide funding for cycling and walking to be equivalent of 5% of the transport budget, and a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy that contains a long-term vision and targets, in the same way that already exists for our roads and railways. This relatively small investment has the potential to have huge benefits for us all.”
It is 20 years since Sustrans gained Lottery funding to develop the National Cycle Network and it now extends over 14,000 miles. Last year, 4.9 million people made 764 million trips by bike and foot on the routes.
While proud of the organisation’s achievements, Shepherd makes the point that government could achieve much more. “If a charity can lead the creation of a Network of routes that runs the length and breadth of the country, imagine what could be possible if government created safer conditions for walking and cycling, including reducing speeds.”