National news

Walking and cycling organisations call for investment

On 23 January an alliance of walking and cycling organisations called for the government to increase its funding of active travel if it wanted to meet the targets set by the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS). Representatives from Cycling UK, Sustrans and Living Streets gave evidence at the Transport Select Committee and highlighted the need for sustained investment to deliver the CWIS aim of making cycling and walking the natural choice for shorter journeys.

Currently 60% of journeys between one and two miles are taken by car and, last year, the number of children walking to school dropped by two percentage points. Rachel White of Sustrans raised some of the barriers to cycling including safety, lack of good infrastructure and the perceived convenience of driving over cycling, which she believes could all be addressed with the right investment in protected cycle lanes.

Roger Geffen from Cycling UK agreed and pointed out that it was important that any money spent was spent well: this meant creating ‘a dense network of routes’ and ensuring local councils and Highways England followed the latest guidance on designing for cycling. The active travel alliance would like to see a rebalancing of the budget for travel with investment in walking and cycling making up 5% of transport spending and increasing to 10% in the future.

NICE says cycling and walking should be given priority to benefit the nation’s health

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‘Transport systems and the wider built environment can influence people’s ability to be active,’ said the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as it called for priority to be given to walking and cycling when roads are built or upgraded. Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths in the UK, and is believed to cost the UK £7.4 billion each year.

Issuing a set of draft guidelines for local authorities and transport planners, NICE said that street design should be safe and accessible for all including older people and those with limited mobility.

British Cycling campaign aims to get a million women cycling by 2020

In February, Dame Sarah Storey called on national and local leaders to ‘build bike lanes fit for everyone, not just the brave’ to unleash the enormous potential for growth in women’s cycling. Her speech was part of British Cycling’s ‘One in a Million’ campaign, which aims to narrow the gender gap in cycling and get one million more women on bikes by 2020.

Storey said that with two-thirds of British women citing safety as a barrier to cycling, poor-quality disconnected facilities were simply not good enough and more space needed to be allocated for cycling. ‘If we are to truly make people on bikes feel safer and reduce the potential for conflict between road users we need high-quality, fully-segregated routes in all towns and cities, built to clear and consistent design standards, and properly enforced 20mph speed limits on quieter streets. Anything less than this and cycling will continue to be confined to the brave.’

For more information about the ‘One in a Million’ campaign and more information and tips on starting to cycle, visit britishcycling.org.uk/womenscycling