Transport for London Pushes Forward with Walking and Cycling Grants to Encourage Accessible and Sustainable Travel

Transport for London (TfL) has declared plans to fund London communities with over £500,000 of grants to implement active travel projects. The grants aim to improve access to sustainable and inclusive transport options for underrepresented groups.

Walking and Cycling Grants

In a press release published on August 3rd 2023, TfL announced that applications are open for London organisations to submit their ideas of how to encourage walking and cycling in their community.

The Walking and Cycling Grants London (WCGL) programme is in partnership with The London Marathon Foundation and Groundwork London. The programme, which has been running since 2015, will offer two types of grant this year.

The Walking and Cycling Grants fund new projects that support the local community. The grant, which provides up to £10,000 over three years, is intended particularly for communities that struggle with walking and cycling to improve their activity.

The Community Ideas Grants provides £5000 over a single year for communities to replicate past successful projects on the Community Ideas Hub.

Eligibility and Applications

According to the WCGL website, applicants for the grants must be organisations that operate within Greater London.

The proposed projects must promote and increase the use of walking or cycling in the area, especially for new or infrequent walkers or cyclists. Applicants must also focus on bridging the gap between communities and active travel access.

Applications for both grants closed at 17:00 on Friday September 1st. The successful applicants will be announced in November 2023.

Improving Community Health

The objective of the WCGL programme is to “remove the barriers to walking and cycling and enable all communities to enjoy the benefits of active travel.” WCGL aims not only to increase walking and cycling, but to increase people’s confidence, reduce social isolation, and make active travel more accessible.

Catherine Anderson, Executive Director of the London Marathon Foundation said: “Our mission at the London Marathon Foundation is to inspire activity, particularly for marginalised communities who may not have the same access to physical activity as others.”

The grants benefit the overall wellbeing of London’s public and the city itself says Anderson: “Together with Transport for London, we’ve been able to create opportunities for thousands of people from different communities across London to walk and cycle – supporting their physical and mental wellbeing as well as the environment by travelling more sustainably.”

London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said: “By showing that walking and cycling are convenient, easy and fun ways to get around, we can help improve the health and quality of life of more Londoners, as well as reduce toxic air pollution and tackle the climate crisis. Local community organisations have a key role to play in supporting the Mayor’s aim to continue building a greener, more sustainable London for everyone.”

Inaccessibility of Sustainable Travel

Methods of sustainable active travel such as walking and cycling may currently be inaccessible for certain demographics. Sport England’s latest report, the Active Lives Adult Survey November 2021-22, suggests that disabled people and those from lower socio-economic groups are the least likely to be active and commonly feel they do not have the opportunities to do so. The report also shows that people living in the most deprived places have the lowest activity levels, suggesting that a lack of financial investment is a barrier to sustainable travel.

Other data corroborates the inaccessibility of sustainable travel for the disabled population. In 2022, Wheels for Wellbeing published a Disability and Cycling Report outlining the barriers to cycling for disabled people. The report found that issues such as cost, and lack of inclusive cycling opportunities were detriments to disabled cyclists.

On the other hand, the report named inclusive cycling sessions and supportive environments as some of the interventions that could enable disabled people to cycle more. Wheels for Wellbeing recommends safe and supportive cycling environments as one of the measures that would “benefit all cyclists” by tackling pollution and congestion, and giving communities access to the health benefits of cycling.

By concentrating on underrepresented groups, the grants offered by TfL allow communities to prioritise helping those with less access to sustainable transport methods. Inclusive, supportive opportunities such as those provided by TfL’s grants could be the key to implementing sustainable practices in disadvantaged communities.