CTC urges Cameron to Get Britain Cycling after Treasury fails to do so
During a session of ministerial questions on transport in the Commons this morning, Norman Baker promised that an announcement on cycling funding was due “shortly”.
However, contrary to expectations, his Lib Dem colleague Danny Alexander MP (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) said nothing about cycling during his Commons statement on infrastructure spending for the years 2015-2021.
Instead he gave details of how the increases in capital funding over the those 6 years will fund the High Speed 2 rail link and a host of capacity increases to motorways and trunk roads. Over that time, however, spending on local transport – such as local schemes and road maintenance – will decline from around 23% of the Department's capital budget to just 15%, and will also shrink in real terms.
Many councils are raring to transform their roads and communities into places where people of all ages can feel cycle safely and confidently for day-to-day journeys, yet they lack the resources to do this.
CTC Campaigns Director
The report from the recent Get Britain Cycling parliamentary inquiry called for annual spending on cycling of at least £10 per head of population, increasing progressively to £20 per head as cycle use grows. They also noted that London plans to spend £12.50 per head, while Dutch spending is around £24 per head.
The announcement coincided with new figures showing a worsening of cycle safety in 2012. The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads went up by 5% – the 8th successive annual increase – while estimated cycle use increased by just 1.2% compared with 2011. This highlights the urgency of action to improve cyclists’ safety if we are to maximise the huge potential value of its health, economic and environmental benefits.
CTC’s Campaigns & Policy Director Roger Geffen said: “Over the past 18 months we have seen tremendous support for the cause of cycling, which makes this non-response from the Treasury all the more alarming. Many councils are raring to transform their roads and communities into places where people of all ages can feel cycle safely and confidently for day-to-day journeys, yet they lack the resources to do this. It really is urgent now that the Prime Minister answers calls for action to Get Britain Cycling.”
The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, which conducted the 'Get Britain Cycling' inquiry, has secured a commitment to a further parliamentary debate on cycling - the date for this has yet to be set. It is also unclear when DfT will be announcing the winners of the Cycling Cities and the National Parks 'Challenge Funds' (worth £30m and £12m respectively).
In the meantime, CTC is urging people to continue signing the online petition calling for implementation of the report's recommendations.
Prior to the spending announcement, CTC had joined a coalition of environmental groups in calling on the Chancellor to focus on repairing and renewing existing roads, arguing that this would have greater economic and job-creation benefits than building new ones. Motoring, freight and civil engineering organisations were also emphasising the importance of road maintenance.
However with large road schemes now in the pipeline, CTC also voiced fears that these could result in cycle routes being severed. Several current Highways Agency projects are set to undermine cycle links, including a National Cycle Network route where it crosses the M3 near Winchester, another near Sandbach (on the M6) and a third on the A453 near Nottingham. CTC believes that cycle-friendly design principles have to be fully incorporated into all transport projects.
Roger Geffen said: "The Government needs to develop consistent guidelines for cycle-friendly planning and design, so that opportunities to improve cycling conditions are planned in at the outset of all highways and traffic schemes, new developments and even planned maintenance work. We absolutely have to get best value for cycling in everything we do."