Published: 26th MARCH 2024

Taking IJ̳' Walking and Cycling Index to Parliament

IJ̳ colleagues met with Members of Parliament and representatives of key organisations to discuss findings from the Walking and Cycling Index 2023. Head of Public Affairs Arthur Girling shares some of the points discussed during the meeting.

A group of men and women, members of Parliament and representatives of IJ̳ and other organisations, sit in work attire around a table.

IJ̳ colleagues met with MPs and representatives of key organisations to share a preview of findings from the 2023 Walking and Cycling Index. Credit: Arthur Girling

We know people want to walk and cycle more, but how can policymakers help them do it?

This was the question we posed this week, when we gave MPs and key organisations a preview of findings from the 2023 Walking and Cycling Index UK report.

While we can’t share findings until the report is published on 27 March, it's fair to say the survey of more than 21,000 people across 18 urban areas demonstrates the huge demand and potential from people to walk, wheel and cycle.

Kim Leadbeater, MP for Batley and Spen, put it well when she commented that active travel has wide-ranging benefits, and thus should be high on the agenda of so many government departments:

“It's about dealing with loneliness, creating connected communities, boosting mental and physical health, access to education, a thriving economy, cleaner air, improving healthy life expectancy.

“These are all connected, with active travel right at the centre."

Indeed, the discussion showed that the ‘active travel debate’ should be broader in other ways.

Walking, wheeling and cycling should be seen as vital parts of how people get around within the wider transport network.

Two people standing with folding IJ̳s at a train station

Investing in public transport should also mean ensuring that people are able to walk, wheel or cycle to stations to begin with. Photo: John Linton

Accessing transport options

Several of the meeting participants spoke about how public transport relies on people walking or wheeling to the bus stop or train station.

As accessible transport campaigner Caroline Strickland said:

“Investment in accessible buses will be wasted if people can’t even get to the bus stop because of inaccessible pavements.”

The good news is that people recognise this and want it to change.

It is in the government’s gift to give people more choice of how they get around, which is proven to bring prosperity and make our streets, towns and cities thrive.

And there are some positive moves in this area.

We heard about experiences from Greater Manchester, where devolved decision-making and funding is allowing the combined authority to plan improvements and properly integrate walking, wheeling, cycling, buses, trams and trains.

Since IJ̳ started working on the Index (formerly Bike Life) ten years ago in 2014, its comprehensive picture of walking, wheeling and cycling has helped guide successful active travel policy, investment and delivery across the UK.

We hope this latest briefing will help MPs, campaigners and supporters use our latest data to ensure walking, wheeling and cycling is a safe, accessible and attractive choice for everyone.

Walking and Cycling Index reports for 23 urban areas in the UK and Ireland were published on 5 March. The UK aggregated report will be published on 27 March.

We are grateful to Fabian Hamilton, Member of Parliament for Leeds North East, for hosting the parliamentary briefing.

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