Cycling UK, British Cycling and Transport for London have all welcomed the recommendation made by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) that cyclists and pedestrians should get priority when new roads are built or when old ones are upgraded.
In draft guidelines for planners and local authorities released yesterday, the health watchdog suggests a number of measures geared towards putting active travel first.
“We need more people to change their lifestyle and to take more exercise,” said Prof Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, explaining that planners can greatly influence this by prioritising pedestrians and cyclists.
Transport for London were among those to welcome the message, but the organisation’s tweet emphasised that funding is also a vital part of the equation.
New @NICEcomms guidelines state that roads should prioritise walking, cycling and public transport
That’s why we’re investing £2.2bn to:
— Transport for London (@TfL) January 4, 2019
British Cycling Policy Advisor Chris Boardman made the point more explicitly, saying: “Today’s new guidelines from NICE are a very powerful acknowledgement of the urgent need to create streets that will enable people to travel without relying on cars.
“It’s fantastic to have a national health body advocating the many benefits that will come from prioritising cycling and walking. Now we need government investment in active travel to match this ambition and a Department for Transport that requires councils to prioritise people travelling by foot or by bike.”
Boardman’s words were echoed by Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK.
“Cycling UK supports NICE in their call, but the Government committed to doing this five years ago,” he said. “Councils up and down England are putting together plans to make cycling and walking possible, but they’re not receiving the funding they desperately need to make them a reality.”
Together with Living Streets, Cycling UK is calling on the public to write into the Government asking them to provide the funding local authorities need to make their urban spaces better for cycling and walking.
“If Government is truly serious about addressing the obesity epidemic and its burden on NHS, then it’s crucial there are convenient alternatives to driving,” concludes Mr Dollimore. “That means making our cities and towns more attractive for people to walk, cycle or take public transport.”