Insfrastructure Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Living Streets (IB 06)

1. About Living Streets

We are the national charity that stands up for pedestrians. With our supporters we work to create safe, attractive and enjoyable streets, where people want to walk. We work with professionals and politicians to make sure every community can enjoy vibrant streets and public spaces. We started life in 1929 as the Pedestrians Association and have been the national voice for pedestrians throughout our history. In the early years, our campaigning led to the introduction of the driving test, pedestrian crossings and 30mph speed limits. Since then our ambition has grown. Today we influence decision makers nationally and locally, run successful projects to encourage people to walk and provide specialist consultancy services to help reduce congestion and carbon emissions, improve public health, and make sure every community can enjoy vibrant streets and public spaces.

2. Background

The Infrastructure Bill includes a proposed five year investment plan for strategic roads whilst rail already has such a plan in place. However, despite strong all party support there is no similar framework in place for walking and cycling. Therefore, we would welcome an amendment which is supported by a coalition of the country’s leading environment and transport organisations (including Living Streets, British Cycling, CPRE, Campaign for Better Transport, CTC, Sustrans) to establish a long term Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS).

3. Context

The National Travel Survey (NTS) has revealed a dramatic fall in walking trips by 8% compared to the previous year. This is part of a more rapid longer term decline in walking trips since the mid 1990s compared to other private travel modes which has seen walking journeys decrease by 28% compared to 1995/7. For example, in 2012, 47% of trips to and from school by primary school children (aged 5-10) were made on foot compared to 1995/97 when 53% of trips were made on foot. Currently 23% of cars on the road at peak traffic times are taking children to school, contributing to congestion and carbon emissions. This is despite 19 % of school journeys under a mile being driven, a distance that could be walked within 20 minutes. This at a time when 16 pedestrians are killed or seriously injured on our streets every day and 3 out of 4 older people cannot cross the road in time.

4. The benefits

Investments in walking can increase economic value and economic activity in the local area, for example, Living Streets report the Pedestrian Pound has revealed that investment in high quality public realm for walking can deliver a commercial return and a much needed boost for our high streets and town centres. It suggests that making places better for walking can boost footfall and trading by up to 40 per cent. Investments in walking environments can help alleviate the significant economic and societal costs related to poor health such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity and mental health. The recent All Party Commission on Physical Activity estimates that inactivity costs the UK economy £20 billion every year.

5. The Local Sustainable Transport Fund, since 2012, has supported Living Streets in engaging with 532 primary and 112 secondary schools from across the eleven local authority partner areas to deliver walk to school interventions across England. Yet at the end of 2015/16 the funding stream will end leaving many sustainable transport projects at the risk of ending prematurely. Our walk to school project has seen coordinators working with schools to explore barriers to walking, deliver awareness events and implement incentive and reward schemes. The result has been a 26% increase in the number of children walking at our 210 ‘Year 1’ Primary schools (equating to over 2 million new walking journeys by children and accompanying parents and carers) and over £280,000 of capital investment on physical route improvements.

6. Living Streets welcomes the Government’s target, as set out in its cycling delivery plan, to increase the percentage of children aged 5-10 that usually walk to school to 55% in 2025. However, in order to deliver this ambition a clear commitment from the Government is needed to invest both revenue and capital funding for walking from existing Government funding streams. We believe in order to deliver a 55% target by 2025 investment would need to be built up to £100 million per annum between now and 2025. Government also needs to have an equivalent figure for walking to the proposed £10 per head investment for cycling in order to deliver its proposed walking ambitions.

7. Living Streets recognises the role of Local Economic Partnerships in improving infr astructure for walking through Local G r owth Plans, however, we are concerned by a recent response to a Parliamentary Question (HC Deb, 5 December 2014, cW ) which revealed that walking and cycling projects combined are receiving just 4.1% of the total estimated spend (£m) on new projects announced in Growth Deals (July 2014) between 2015/16 to 2020/21 (£127.3m out of £3104.3m). Furthermore, only 14 out of 38 Local Economic Partnerships plan any spending on walking and cycling and more than half of Local Economic Partnerships’ planned walking and cycling expenditure is concentrated in just two of the 38 Local Economic Partnerships (South East (£45.1m) and West of England (£20m). Excluding the South East and West of England Local Economic Partnership s the estimated spend on walking and cycling projects amounts to just 2.3% of Local Economic Partnership spending over the next six years. The overall breakdown of Local Economic Partnership spending is 51.1% roads, 15.5% public transport, 4.1% walking and cycling, and 29.2% mixed schemes. The mixed scheme do contain some walking elements although we estimate this to increase the estimated total spend from 4.1% to a maximum of 6%.

8. What would a cycling and walking investment strategy look like? - A statutory ‘Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Strategy’ (CWIS) like the High Level Output Statement (HLOS) for rail and the Roads Investment Strategy (RIS) proposed for strategic roads would be made up of four elements:

9. a long-term vision to increase walking and cycling rates across the whole population, in rural as well as urban areas;

10. a Statement of Funds Available for the next five years that would be spent specifically on cycling and walking;

11. a detailed Investment Plan of programmes and schemes - for example to improve cycle-rail integration, retrofit safe walking and cycling paths along busy roads and exemplary public spaces;

12. Performance Specification of measures and targets - for example increases in walking and cycling levels, improvement in safety, and the proportion of schools and stations with safe routes to them.

13. We believe this approach statutory approach would generate cross party consensus and secure a transformational level of long-term investment, creating a ‘walking and cycling infrastructure pipeline’ – by contrast much recent funding has been short term in its nature with strict time limits, making it challenging for local authorities to plan ahead and deliver schemes to high standards. In addition such an approach would deliver economies of scale for programmes of minor schemes as well as making sure funding is shared across the country.

December 2014

Prepared 17th December 2014