New money for cycling in England, pledges deputy prime minister

Carlton Reid
Nick Clegg

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg will later today announce new funding for cycling in England to the tune of £214m. However, there's still no commitment to spend £10 per person for the immediate future, one of the key demands in the Get Britain Cycling report. The announcement is to take place in Bristol. Roads minister Robert Goodwill and unofficial "cycling czar" Chris Boardman will join Clegg on the podium.

The chancellor's autumn spending statement next week will include an additional £114 million for eight English cities, including Bristol. The other cities are Birmingham, Cambridge, Newcastle, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Norwich and Oxford. The funding will be spread over the next three years, and is in addition to grants the cities received last year.

A further £100 million will be spent over the next six years on roads administered by the soon-to-be-sort-of-privatised Highways Agency.

There will also be an announcement about the reviving of the Active Travel Consortium, aiming to increase levels of both walking and cycling.

In his speech Nick Clegg will say: "The inspiration and legacy of the 2012 Olympics and the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire this year has started a revolution in cycling for everyone, not just in velodromes, not necessarily in Lycra, but for going to school or to work or to the shops. The rewards could be massive. Billions of pounds in savings for the NHS, less pollution and congestion, and a happier and safer population.”

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Clegg will stress: “We could save the NHS £17 billion within 20 years.”

Today’s promise of new cash will bring the amount pledged for cycling to £588 million over the five years of the coalition government. The Department for Transport spends only 0.7 per cent of its budget on cycling even though its national modal share is 2 percent (and up to 25 percent in some parts of the country).

Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to secure an extra £214 million for cycling. It has been a hard fight.”

CTC hailed today's announcement as a "key milestone on the way to the “Cycling revolution” promised by David Cameron last year."

CTC’s Chief Executive Paul Tuohy said:

“This new funding certainly moves the Prime Minister’s ‘cycling revolution’ up a gear, and the three years of committed funding will be very much welcomed in the eight cities due to receive it.

“This has been a hard fought interim victory, not just for the cycling campaign community but also for the Department for Transport staff and MPs who’ve worked hard with us to Get Britain Cycling.

“We now need to keep pushing leading politicians in all parties to raise the annual funding for cycling up to the level of at least £10 per person, increasing progressively to £20 as cycle use rises – not just for eight cities but for the whole of Britain.

“So our message to local authorities and campaigners everywhere is, ‘Let’s keep up the pressure, it’s starting to work!’"

Pictured: Chris Boardman with CTC chief exec Paul Tuohy

Sustrans warned there must be a long-term commitment to dedicated funding for walking and cycling.

Sustrans chief executive Malcolm Shepherd said: “This is an invaluable commitment from government to cycling at a time of local spending cuts that spans this and the next Parliament.

“This must be a call to action for local decision makers at a time when the government is committed to spending £24 billion on roads and wider investment priorities are being set.

“Longer term, dedicated funding of at least £10 per head is the key to transforming Britain into a cycling and walking nation.”

British Cycling’s Policy Adviser Chris Boardman said:

“Obesity is not only killing 37,000 people in the UK every year, when all the effects are factored in, it’s costing us almost one billion pounds every week. A large part of the solution to this problem – not to mention pollution, congestion and social issues – is glaringly, frighteningly simple.

“For these problems to be solved, the solution needs to be invisible, built into our everyday lives, unnoticed. The solution is in how we move. British Cycling’s member survey highlights that, in this present moment, even regular cyclists are concerned for their safety on our roads. We have a long way to go.

“Last week the government’s own studies confirmed that investing in cycling gives a 5:1 return. I’m not exaggerating when I say that now is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change this country for the better for us and our children.”

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