Sustrans Election Manifesto

14th November 2019

Sustrans path over Nidd viaduct
Sustrans path over Nidd viaduct

Sustrans has launched its own manifesto for the 2019 General Election. They call on all political parties to prioritise walking and cycling, to tackle the climate crisis.

Transport accounts for 26% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions, with road vehicles the main source of those transport emissions. More walking and cycling, and less driving, will reduce transport emissions.

There are five main 'asks' in the Sustrans manifesto:

  1. Long-term investment in walking and cycling: 5% of the transport budget by 2020/21, rising to at least 10% by 2024/5. Also, £72 million per year to be invested in the National Cycle Network.
  2. Commit to a 20-minute neighbourhood planning principle for all towns and cities, so that everyone can walk and cycle for their everyday services and needs.
  3. Transform the school run, so children can walk, cycle, and scoot in safety.
  4. 20mph default speed limit in all built-up areas. Ban pavement parking.
  5. Establish a UK-wide Greenways programme, so everyone has equal access to the natural environment.

Sustrans CEO Xavier Brice said:

"This manifesto sets out clear asks for the next government to show leadership on curbing road transport emissions, and making walking and cycling the easiest and most convenient options for more people, regardless of gender, age, and abilities...Neighbourhoods where people live within a 20 walk of everyday services will be critical to creating a healthy, zero-carbon future for everyone."

Sustrans' vision

CEO Brice sets out a vision in the manifesto (p2):

'Imagine living in a place where everything you need is within a 20 minute walk. Schools, shops, recreation and work is on your doorstep. Streets prioritise people with wide pavements, seating and cycle parking.

Green space is ubiquitous in your neighbourhood. Cars are guests on residential streets and are the exception around schools. Children play out more now, as it feels safer. They walk and cycle to school again. A series of protected cycleways along main roads ensures people can get around by cycle safely.

You choose to walk and cycle because it is the most obvious choice, the easiest choice, the cheapest choice. Public transport is easily accessible, cheap and frequent. There are some longer journeys you need to make but car but these are rare. And because you move every day, you are healthier. You see neighbours and have a social connection to the place in which you live. It is a community.'

The 20-minute neighbourhood

The manifesto describes the 20-minute neighbourhood (p14).

'All people in cities and towns should live within a 20 minute walk from their everyday amenitites like schools, shops, green space, and health services. Sustrans wants to see the 20 minute neighbourhood concept as a central principle of the planning system.'

'In practice, this would mean that new communities would be made up of compact, mixed use developments, where workplaces, schools and shops are close to homes, and integrated with a robust public transport system' (p16).

Transform the journey to school

The manifesto points out that the number of children being driven to primary school has been increasing each year since 1995, and now as many as one in four cars on the road during the morning peak is on the school run. Traffic danger is the most common reason cited by parents for not allowing their children to walk or cycle to school.

'We need to create conditions around schools which make walking and cycling safe and easy. We need to build infrastructure that children can use safely; reduce through traffic near schools; provide more children with cycle training; and incorporate active travel within schools' curricula and wider culture.

Regular physical activity is important from an early age to promote good physical and mental health and the school journey is the perfect opportunity to achieve this' (p18).

More on the UK Election 2019.