Thank you for contacting me about walking to school. I know walking has many health, economic and environmental benefits.
I want to encourage more pupils to cycle or walk to school (I cycle to work myself most days), particularly in urban areas. As you know, the Government has set an ambition to increase the percentage of schoolchildren aged five to 10 who walk to school to 55 per cent by 2025, and Ministers have made a long-term funding commitment of more than £400 million for cycling and walking available to every local authority in the country until 2021.
The main source of funding for walking initiatives in the past five years has been the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LTSF). This is a £600 million grant programme for local authorities that supports a range of sustainable transport projects across England. Over the five years of the LTSF, approximately £120 million has been spent on schemes that directly benefit walkers. The Coalition Government also provided around £15 million through the Community Linking Places Fund for traffic free and traffic calmed links in communities, including around schools. In addition to this, Ministers have shown an ongoing commitment to walking through substantial funding already announced for schemes over the next few years.
As you mention, going forward, the Government’s Infrastructure Act sets out the creation of a “Cycling and Walking Investment strategy” with dedicated funding. The Act makes provision for the Transport Secretary to set a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, which must specify objectives and financial resources to be made available to achieve them. The Transport Secretary must also report to Parliament on the progress made towards these objectives. I welcome the recent announcement that Department for Transport officials have started work on this and Ministers will shortly bring forward the legislation required to commence the relevant section of the Act.
Thank you again for contacting me.