Targets to boost walking and cycling in England almost certain to be missed

Logo The GuardianThe Guardian
2023-06-07 05:00:28  • 4 mins

Ministers are very unlikely to meet their own targets to boost walking and cycling in England despite spending more than 2bn on active travel infrastructure, a damning report has found.

While most walking and cycling projects are delivered by local councils, until recently there were few guidelines for how these should be built, the governments official spending watchdog said, and thus minimal oversight of their quality.

One official estimate cited in the National Audit Office (NAO) report suggested that over half of local authorities still have low capability and ambition for walking and cycling, as well as wheeling, when people use wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

Between 2016 and 2021, the NAO said, the Department for Transport (DfT) spent 2.3bn funding councils to build new active travel infrastructure without knowing which schemes were good enough.

It went on: DfT does not know the totality of what local authorities have achieved through this funding and has identified that infrastructure it has funded may not have been good enough quality, including where interventions were largely cosmetic and did not provide a safe space for cycling.

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