Empower us to do our jobs say cycling and walking commissioners


Cycling and Walking Commissioners from across the UK have today called on the government to empower them truly to do their jobs by giving cycling and walking the funding it deserves, making a political commitment to minimum quality levels and accounting for the true cost of car use to society.

In a joint letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, the Commissioners are calling for five policy changes that could truly transform Britain’s towns and cities through active travel, as has been done in so many places worldwide.

At a national summit to mark the start of Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Week today, Chris Boardman will be joined by all of the UK’s Cycling and Walking Commissioners and other city leaders, including Paralympian and Sheffield City Region, Commissioner Dame Sarah Storey, the West Midlands Cycling Ambassador and World Champion cyclist, Shanaze Reade, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner, Lee Craigie, and Liverpool City Council’s Cycling Champion, Simon O’Brien.

Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said:

“It’s tragic that hundreds of millions of pounds of government money have been spent on sub-standard cycling and walking infrastructure. If national government were to adopt these asks we’d be on a winning streak and could truly transform Britain’s towns and cities, not to mention massively improving air quality and health. We need to make decisions based on evidence and we’ve got compounding evidence that this is the right thing to do for our society. It’s not a quick win, it’s a 10-20 year evolution, but we can’t afford not to do this and we simply cannot go on as we are. This is a no brainer.”

As well as asking for a commitment to long-term devolved funding for cycling and walking, the Commissioners are asking for a political commitment to minimum infrastructure quality levels and the freedom to innovate by keeping road traffic regulations under review.

The Commissioners also ask that the true cost of car use to society is counted in economic appraisal models, and the benefits of car alternatives be fully recognised.

Lastly, the city-regions are asking for the devolvement of powers to enable revenue from fixed penalty notices for driving offences to be retained locally and used to pay for policing and enforcement.

The five policy asks in full are:

  1. Commit to long-term devolved funding
  2. A political commitment to minimum quality levels
  3. Enable the local retention of fixed penalty notices to fund road danger reduction measures
  4. Enable us to innovate by keeping road traffic regulations under review
  5. Transport investment decisions should account for the true cost of car use to society

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:

“If we want our country to be a healthier, wealthier and more liveable place for everyone, then we need to give people an attractive alternative to the car. In Greater Manchester we’ve taken the significant decision to invest £18 per head on cycling and walking over the next four years. We’re doing things differently here in Greater Manchester and we want to show the rest of the country that we can change the way we travel around our city-region. In the North West a revolution in cycling and walking is possible.”

Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner for Sheffield City Region, said: “A nationally coordinated approach to active travel is vital and I am delighted to be signing this letter alongside Commissioners from other regions. There are common barriers for which a centralised approach will enable to us to succeed in delivering high quality active travel schemes. In Sheffield City Region I am making four pledges: to be led by our communities; to enable walking and cycling rather than just encourage it; to build infrastructure which will meet or exceed minimum requirements; and to build infrastructure which will be accessible to all. I am at the beginning of my journey as Active Travel Commissioner but I've been so inspired in what Chris Boardman is doing with Andy Burnham over the Pennines and by the new infrastructure unveiled in the West Midlands. It's brilliant to have the opportunity to work closely with Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, to create a transport system which prioritises active travel. I am confident through the strength of our voice collectively we will be able to make an even greater difference to the choice people have when choosing to travel in the UK.”

London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said:

“Where towns and cities are investing in high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure the benefits are clear – helping tackle our inactivity crisis, helping clean up our toxic air, and making our streets more welcoming places to spend time. But for people truly to reap the benefits across the UK, Government policy must not continue to hold us back. In London we’re investing a record £2.3bn in Healthy Streets to enable more walking and cycling, with innovative new quality criteria improving the standard of new infrastructure in the capital. But for the benefits of walking and cycling to be felt across the country, it is essential we now have a genuinely national commitment led by the Government.”

 Liverpool’s Cycling Champion, Simon O’Brien, said:

“I have travelled on my bike around the country and across the globe for both my TV work and pure pleasure over the last 30 years. I know first-hand the incredible benefits and frustrating obstacles that there are to cycling. Not many things can help tackle climate change, air pollution, obesity, congestion, mental wellbeing, heart disease, tourism and family fun in one fell swoop. Properly segregated cycle routes can. I can’t think of any other intervention that will give better value for money for the entire population of our country. If the Government wants to keep pace with forward thinking countries around the world then now is the time to act. We have the plan.”

Article Published: 14/06/2019 15:43 PM