Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman and Mayor Andy Burnham have called on Government to provide “a consistent funding stream” for cycling and walking, increasing money from the Department of Transport above the 1% of total budget currently spent.
Burnham and Boardman were speaking yesterday as part of an evidence session with the Government’s Transport Select Committee in Manchester.
Burnham asked for cycling and walking to be given the same status by the Department for Transport as roads investment. He said: “Successive Governments have treated cycling and walking as an afterthought. This cannot continue at a time when we’ve got congested roads, polluted air and high levels of physical inactivity.
“Greater Manchester made the bold decision to spend £160m on cycling and walking to kick-start our plans for the UK’s largest cycling and walking network. There is a huge appetite to deliver these plans but we now need Government to show the same ambition and put in place a consistent national funding stream for cycling and walking.”
Boardman, former Olympian and the City Region’s cycling tzar, said: “This isn’t about people riding bikes, it’s about creating healthier, better places to live, more economically-robust areas, revitalising town centres, and giving people a real and attractive alternative to driving. By the Government’s own calculations, money invested in enabling people to cycle and walk is the most efficient transport spend that a nation can make. I just don’t understand why the penny hasn’t dropped yet.
“The transformational work we’ve started doing in Greater Manchester needs to be backed up by a consistent funding stream for active travel. The will is there – we’ve got thousands of residents keen to see improvements where they live, and the councils are up for this too. Sadly, our ambition needs to be matched by a funding model that is currently only reserved for other transport modes like motor transport. This isn’t just a problem for Greater Manchester, it’s a problem for countless other cities too like Bristol, Birmingham and Sheffield.”
Currently, only around 1% of the Department for Transport’s budget is allocated to cycling and walking.
The Mayor and the commissioner also told the committee that there should be a Government requirement that, where possible, cycling and walking infrastructure is included as part of any new transport infrastructure, such as the building of roads or junctions.