In 2003, London imposed a congestion charge on motorists entering the city that saw an increase in cyclists by 30%. Bike and public transport journeys could save the national economy £110bn over the next 30 years, says Sustran Getty

Health benefits from walking and cycling have saved the UK more than £7bn over the past 20 years, says research by sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

An additional £200m a year in absenteeism costs has been avoided as well as 30 million kgs of carbon emission.

By increasing the number of foot, bike and public transport journeys twofold could save the national economy £110bn over the next 30 years, the report estimates.

The health benefits cited by the charity, include reduction of obese or overweight people and lower levels of pollution. Exhaust from diesel vehicles is the primary source for toxic particulate matter polluting the air.

Considering the enormous potentials, Sustrans wants the government to invest in cycling and walking as it has done with roads and railways, reports Business Green.

Sustrans has sought a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy that would require ministers to set targets and assign 5% of the transport budget for walking and cycling.

"To make walking and cycling local journeys an option for everyone we need the new government to provide funding for cycling and walking to be equivalent of five per cent of the transport budget," Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of Sustrans said.

The National Cycling Network launched by Sustrans in 1995 has seen a growing network of cycling and walking routes which helps the UK economy save £1m a day.

"The figures speak for themselves - we have demonstrated beyond doubt that many more people walking and cycling is good for our health, and it's smarter for our economy," notes Shepherd.

In 2003, London had imposed a congestion charge on motorists entering the city, this led to an increase in cyclists by 30%.

Many cities across the globe have taken initiatives to popularise cycling and have introduced bike lanes. Cities in the US like San Diego have recently notched an impressive 620 mile network, while San Francisco comes first for total cycling miles per square mile with 7.8.

The city of Copenhagen spends around 25% of its road budget on bicycle infrastructure, with around 397km of cycle paths and 35,000 bike parking stations. Around 90% of the residents own a bike, which is seen as a symbol of personal energy.

Moreover, the cycling capital of the world, The Netherlands has numerous streets that are car free.

Transportation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions and accounted for more than 2,000 megatonnes of CO2 in 2010.