27th July 2020
Introduction: The case for a step-change
We want – and need – to see a step-change in cycling and walking in the coming years. The challenge is huge, but the ambition is clear. We have a unique opportunity to transform the role cycling and walking can play in our transport system, and get England moving differently.
Because the potential benefits are huge
Increasing cycling and walking can help tackle some of the most challenging issues we face as a society – improving air quality, combatting climate change, improving health and wellbeing, addressing inequalitiesand tackling congestion on our roads.
Bold action will help to create places we want to live and work – with better connected, healthier and more sustainable communities. It will help deliver clean growth, by supporting local businesses, as well as helping ensure prosperity can spread across the country and level up our nation.
Many people do not realise the health benefits from physical activity
Physical activity, like cycling and walking, can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six UK deaths (equal to smoking) and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually (including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone).
A once in a generation chance to accelerate active travel
The recent COVID-19 restrictions have profoundly impacted the way people live, work and travel as evidenced by the public’s desire to be more active, and the rise in popularity of cycling and walking (Sport England, 2020). Now, we can embed those changes in people’s travel behaviour, increase active travel, and transform permanently how many people move around, particularly in towns and cities.
We do not underestimate the challenge of achieving lasting behaviour changes – and we will need to ensure that understanding of transport users’ needs, motivations and behaviours is central to what we do, in order to maximise our chances of success.