UK data shows majority want increased funding for walking, cycling, and public transport

49 days ago

3 minutes

British charity Sustrans has published its Walking and Cycling Index 2023, revealing that a majority (56%) of people want to see a shift in investment in road building schemes to funding options for walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport

Sustrans’ Walking and Cycling Index 2023 is the largest independent survey of active travel in the UK. With compelling figures, the charity is calling for proper recognition of the public preference for prioritising active travel and public transport. The results also revealed greater public demand for active travel over driving, with 50% wanting to walk more and 43% wanting to cycle more, and third of people wanting to make greater use of public transport. By comparison, just 15% want to drive more. 24% want to drive less.

Sustrans noted that these figures can give confidence to any moves taken by the next government in reaching Net Zero targets, and in hitting government targets of 50% of urban journeys to be walked or cycled in the next six years

Xavier Brice, Chief Executive of Sustrans, said:

“The evidence shows that people want to have the choice to walk, cycle, and use public transport. Moving forwards isn’t about forcing people out of their cars. It is about making it easy for people to travel how they would actually prefer to, which also improves public health, the economy and our environment.”

The wider benefits of active travel

  • Sustrans’ data shows that, yearly, active travel benefits the 18 Index city economies by £6.1 billion.
  • And walking and cycling prevents over 21,000 serious long-term health conditions in those same cities.
  • In addition, journeys walked, wheeled or cycled in 2023 prevented 420,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions entering the atmosphere.

Xavier Brice continued:

“The UK is spending record sums on transport but the message from the public is clear. They want a real choice. They don’t want to be locked into driving a car because there are no other options. We’ve seen real improvement in the cities we’ve surveyed over the last 10 years, but there is a long way to go to make active travel work for everyone. Now the opportunity is for government at all levels to listen to what people want and shift future investment to options that benefit us all.”

What the public wants to see

The Walking and Cycling Index highlights public support for initiatives focused on making it easier for people to get around their neighbourhoods:

  • 65% support banning vehicles parking on the pavement with only 16% opposing
  • 58% support more cycle paths protected from traffic even if this removes space for cars
  • 50% support the installation of School Streets – closing streets outside schools to cars during drop-off and pick-up times. 24% disagree.

Dennis, who lives in Manchester, explained her struggle to travel actively:

“When the children were small I got forced onto the road while they were on the path as there was no space for the wheelchair. I couldn’t see them behind the parked cars. It was very upsetting. Unsafe pavements isolate people in their homes. When I was a manual wheelchair user I couldn’t go anywhere on the pavement. We need to design our neighbourhoods to suit people rather than cars. We should get rid of cars on pavements.”

Head to Sustrans website to download the Walking and Cycling Index 2023.


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