Asking Labour to support and fund active travel

Just a quick thing...

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Following the general election result last week that saw a new Labour government come to power, as well as a change of MP in Nuneaton, I have written again to Jodie Gosling MP. This time I have asked that she in turn write to the new Secretary of State for Transport (Louise Haigh) and the new Chancellor of the Exchequer (Rachel Reeves) to request that the government put active travel at the top of the transport agenda, and properly fund it.

Many of the points were already covered in emails during the campaign, but a copy of the email is here. I would urge everyone to please contact your own MPs with similar emails; please feel free to use this as a template or for ideas.

Hi Jodie,

Firstly, I’d like to offer my congratulations for winning the Nuneaton seat at the General Election, and for the broader Labour win which I hope marks the start of an era of more positive and constructive politics for the UK.

Further to my emails that I sent to you during the campaign, I’d like to ask if you would please write to both the Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh, and to the Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, to request that they put active and sustainable transport at the heart of the new government’s transport agenda, committing to ongoing annual funding in the region of £2.25bn to support building high-quality and cohesive cycle networks across the UK. 

As I spoke about before, this offers an excellent cost-benefit ratio for infrastructure projects, where enabling active travel allows people to build physical activity into everyday life, with many cross-cutting benefits that can contribute towards broader societal improvements – including address points of specific concern to you, such as poverty and access to healthcare. 

To reiterate the points I made before in case you wish to forward them on, these benefits include (in no particular order):

  • Reducing car dependency, offering people an alternative travel option; particularly important for those who cannot or do not want to drive for whatever reason, including age and physical or medical conditions. 
  • Increased independence particularly for young people, offering travel options that do not require parental supervision, with independence in childhood a contributory factor in them growing up to be resilient and well-rounded adults.
  • Better educational attainment, where physical activity before a school day is known to improve learning.
  • Addressing the cost-of-living crisis, reducing individual fuel or ride hire costs, or even allowing people to reduce car ownership with associated savings.
  • Energy security, with reduced demand for fuel.
  • Economic benefits, allowing easy local transport to jobs or to access local shops and services; growing the cycling-specific economy with local shops and mechanics, cycle tourism etc.; economic benefits of reduced congestion.
  • Climate change and air quality, through reduced pollution from motor vehicles (which includes road, tyre, and brake wear). 35,000 premature deaths per year may be attributed to air pollution.
  • Reduced noise pollution, through reduced motor traffic, with associated health benefits.
  • Improved physical and mental health, through building in physical activity into day-to-day lives, reducing loneliness and isolation, and improved independence.
  • Reduced NHS demand, due to a healthier population as a result of the above, freeing resources.
  • Improved road safety, due to separated infrastructure reducing points of conflict, reduced motor traffic etc.
  • Reduced road congestion, through a reduction in the need to travel by motor vehicle, offering a better experience for those who need to drive, with associated economic benefits with fewer people stuck in heavy traffic.

While I understand there are currently lots of pressures on limited funds, given the wide range of benefits that supporting modal shift from driving to active transport (and public transport) for those who can do so, it makes a lot of sense to make this a priority. Indeed, I see it as essential where our transport policies have for too long been motor-focused to the detriment of all other options. Now we’re in a climate emergency, and in a more volatile world. This old way of thinking no longer works (if it ever really did), and we now must quickly realise the benefits of a diverse transport system.

We should be looking to emulate the success seen in the Netherlands where they have built out a very successful nationwide network through ongoing funding. There people can choose the most appropriate mode of transport for their particular journey and requirements. Cycling for transport is extremely popular, but driving works very well too, where the two modes are kept largely separate and far fewer very local journeys are taken by car, freeing road capacity for driving on longer trips. 

Of course, we can’t get there without central government first realising that this is vital and not just a “nice to have” notion that can be ignored or pushed back to later years, and it then providing the required ongoing funding while also setting the direction to local authorities that this is what we need to achieve. 

Thank you again for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you. 


Email to Jodie Gosling MP, sent Monday 08 July 2024

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