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Government’s second cycling and walking investment strategy outlines almost £4bn funding for active travel – and aims to double the number of cycling trips by 2025

The increased funding forms part of the government’s ambition “to make cycling and walking the natural choices for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey by 2040”

Amidst a turbulent week for British politics, 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 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.

The new document, which was scheduled to be published last year but was delayed due to Covid, covers the period between April 2021 and March 2025 and outlines the government’s strategy to maintain and increase the levels of active travel witnessed during the early stages of the pandemic – including increasing the amount of cycling trips to 1.6 billion during the next three years.

> £1.2bn in funding as Government finally publishes cycling and walking investment strategy 

The government’s revised objectives for the next four years, based on the targets of the original 2017 strategy and the Gear Change document, include:

  • doubling cycling, where cycling activity is measured as the estimated total number of cycling stages (trips) made each year, from 0.8 billion stages in 2013 to 1.6 billion stages in 2025
  • increasing the percentage of short journeys in towns and cities that are walked or cycled from 41 percent in 2019 to 46 percent in 2025
  • increasing walking activity to 365 stages per person per year in 2025
  • increasing the percentage of children aged five to ten who normally walk to school from 49 percent in 2014 to 55 percent in 2025

Beyond 2025, the government aims to increase the percentage of short journeys in towns and cities that are walked or cycled to 50 percent in 2030 and to 55 percent in 2035, while delivering a “world-class cycling and walking network” in England by 2040.

Funding to achieve these objectives will come from active travel revenue and capital funds, wider Department for Transport programmes, and other central government funds. It will be managed by the newly formed government agency Active Travel England, headed by Chris Boardman, and the DfT.  

> Chris Boardman heads newly-launched government body Active Travel England 

In the foreword, Harrison said: “In the midst of the pandemic, we saw quieter roads, buses and trains. This was largely to be expected given the necessary public health restrictions in place.

“However, during this time of disruption for much of the transport network, previously unsung forms of travel thrived. Cycling rates increased by 46 percent and a million more people started walking for leisure.

“This active travel renaissance uncovered a pent-up demand for a different way of travelling, particularly for shorter journeys. Quieter roads and less congestion gave many of us the space, confidence and opportunity to get behind the handlebars or put on our walking shoes.

“Now that the economy has reopened and road usage is back to pre-pandemic levels, we cannot afford to lose those active travellers. This second cycling and walking investment strategy (CWIS2) reaffirms our commitment to making walking, wheeling and cycling the natural choices for millions more journeys.

“But we now need to step it up a gear. CWIS2 outlines the total investment into active travel across government through to 2025.

“That means, where possible, redesigning towns, cities and neighbourhoods to enable more active short journeys. It means making active travel more inclusive, by removing barriers that make it harder for some to walk, wheel or cycle to their destinations. And it means using the newly created body, Active Travel England, to set high standards for active travel infrastructure, new development design, engagement, training and behaviour change.

“Faced with the rising cost of living and a warming planet, there is a renewed sense of urgency to act, and act fast, in choosing lower cost greener forms of travel. The past two years have shown that active travel is a practical and popular way of getting around for many people, provided the conditions are right. We’ve already made significant progress, but now we must push on.”

> Boris Johnson resignation: A blow for active travel? 

The chief executive of cycling and walking charity Sustrans, Xavier Brice, said: “Sustrans welcomes the Government’s refreshed Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, which shows the urgent need to tackle inequality of access to active forms of travel, and for the first time includes wheeling alongside cycling and walking.

“Achieving the necessary revolution in how we get about is vital for our health, our wallets and our planet, but this won’t happen unless we make it easier for everyone to make this choice now.

“Long-term investment in reliable infrastructure, such as the National Cycle Network, alongside immediately tackling the plague of pavement parking, is critical to improving access to active travel.

“But we must all play our part, and local councils and city regions should embrace opportunities for change, so everyone has the chance to be free from expensive and pollutant car overuse.”

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Sriracha | 1 year ago

The lockdown showed that you don't have to spend anything on bespoke cycle highways - it is sufficient to free up the existing highways for cyclists to use safely. In any case, so far as the planet is concerned, the goal is to reduce motor traffic - the increase in cycling is merely a means to that end rather than the goal itself. The risk is that we spend billions getting those pesky cyclists out of the way, thereby freeing up the roads for more motor traffic.

Of course increased cycling does bring other benefits, principally improved physical and mental health of the population, with consequent reduction in health costs.

The problem with cycling anywhere is having nowhere safe, secure and convenient to park your bike. I could easily cycle to Lidl, I dont need a "cycle superhighway", but I'll get my bike stolen, so I don't. No such worries with the car. I could cycle to work, but I'd need to be on mates terms with the janitor to find some hideaway lockup for the bike ... etc

chrisonabike replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
1 like

Agree on the parking. Having *no* cars would make roads OK cycling infra and plenty of it. But not great infra *because they're designed, built and maintained for large motor vehicles*.

NOtotheEU replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago

Agreed, cycling to and from work every day over the lockdown with very little traffic was glorious.

Safe parking trumps all other infra in my book. I use a long chain, alarmed D lock, remote alarm and a tracker and then have to remove two cameras, two panniers and multiple lights every time I park up so visiting multiple places in a day is an absolute pain.

Bungle_52 replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago

I agree that making cycling safer on our roads will be a lot quicker and cheaper than building new infra. One of the prerequisits for this is that the police take suitable action against motorists who do not drive carefully and considerately around vulnerable road users. NMOTD is helping in this, especially after the NMOTD 794 update. It looks like things may be moving in the right direction but we have a long way to go.

With regard to bike theft my solution is to have a "shopper bike" that no one in their right mind would want to steal. Despite this I still lock it with 2 locks (a cable and a D lock) if I'm leaving it in what I consider a high risk area. Obviously if one is commuting a significant distance then we need employers to provide decent secure bike parking (and showers).

eburtthebike | 1 year ago

£3.78bn; sounds great, but is still a tiny amount compared to the spending on roads and the amount actually required to achieve the kind of change needed.

Listened to "Antisocial" on R4 this morning, discussing giving up cars, and no prizes for guessing how many times the presenter mentioned active travel, that was left to the person advocating less car use  The pro-car guy didn't really seem to know what he was talking about.

RoubaixCube | 1 year ago

Knowing this Government. I'll believe it when i see it.

brooksby replied to RoubaixCube | 1 year ago

Knowing this Govt, I'm not convinced I'd actually believe it even then. 

Sniffer replied to brooksby | 1 year ago

I am not sure if even this Government 'know the Government' today.

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