The Labour Party has pledged to spend £50 per head annually on active travel in England if it wins this month’s general election, promising to make it “one the best countries in the world for walking and cycling.”
The pledge far outstrips the £17 per person per year, rising to £34 annually by 2025, called for by campaign groups belonging to the Cycling & Walking Alliance.
In all, Labour says it would spend £7.2 billion a year over the lifetime of the next parliament in funding active travel in England (spend on active travel in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland falls within the remit of the devolved administrations in those countries).
By comparison, the Conservatives have pledged just £350 million over the next five years, or £70 million a year, if they win the election; as road.cc contributor Laura Laker, writing today about the various parties’ cycling policies in the Guardian Bike Blog, points out, that equates to £1.18 per person a year, which is a drop on current levels of spending.
Labour says it would seek inspiration from towns and cities in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands to draw up a healthy streets programme to improve air quality and encourage people to walk or cycle.
It aims to double the number of cycling journeys made by both adults and children through building 5,000 kilometres of cycleways as well as ensuring that there are safe routes to walk or cycle to 10,000 primary schools throughout the country.
Free Bikeability lessons would be extended to all primary school children and their parents, and money would be made available for more secondary school students and adults to benefit frok cycle training.
Other policies include grants to buy e-bikes and making bicycles affordable for all.
The party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said: “I love walking and cycling so I’m proud of the policies we’ve announced today to give millions of people the freedom to walk and cycle along convenient, attractive routes, safe from traffic danger.
“These policies will slash carbon emissions, tackle air pollution, save our NHS billions and boost our high streets by making towns and city centres more pleasant.
“Our plans will transform opportunities so that travelling actively and healthily is an option for the many, not just the bold and fearless.”
Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, commented: “Walking and cycling are essential forms of transport, but have been neglected by nine years of Tory Britain.
“Making more of our everyday trips by walking and cycling is crucial to reducing transport emissions and tackling the climate emergency.
“We could cut up to one third of carbon emissions from car journeys if we had the same quality of segregated cycle infrastructure and cycling culture as the Dutch, and simultaneously we would cut the obesity and diabetes crisis that is threatening to overwhelm the NHS.”
He added: “Labour’s plans will make England one the best countries in the world for walking and cycling.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.