The British Chambers of Commerce has today said there's an urgent need for action on a range of transport projects needed to boost business growth across the UK. Bicycle infrastucture isn't on the business organisation's list.
Instead, the British Chambers of Commerce mostly wants wider and faster trunk roads and motorways. Rail and air travel also get mentions from BCC, but cyclists and pedestrians can whistle.
The BBC says that "too many transport projects, which are crucial to business growth, are stuck in the slow lane." The Government must force through infrastructure projects even if there are "objections."
Climate change worries? None.
Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Transport infrastructure is critical to business growth but progress on the investment promised by successive governments continues to be too slow. Whenever key decisions to improve capacity on the country’s rail, road and air networks are delayed, our businesses and economy are missing out. Even where projects have been given the go-ahead in Westminster, progress is typically slow and in too many cases is mired in the planning stages.
“We need bold action from the government to improve the UK’s transport infrastructure. This kind of investment is insulated from global uncertainty, and it creates short-term confidence, jobs in the medium term, and improves the UK’s competitiveness in the long term. Ministers must use all the powers at their disposal to kick-start these lay projects. In some cases, that will mean using the government’s balance sheet to unlock private funding, and in others, it will mean using planning powers to overcome objections and speed the process of construction. We are confident now that ministers understand the need for infrastructure investment. We’re not yet confident that their welcome commitment is translating into action on the ground.”
The BCC wants the Government to bring forward plans to allow use of the hard shoulder on motorways (a measure that will clearly lead to many more road deaths) and wants improvements made to the UK rail network.
The BCC also wants a third runway at Heathrow airport but, mostly, it wants wider and wider roads.
Local transport doesn't figure much in today's annoucement from the British Chambers of Commerce: there's nothing on urban metro systems, nothing on walking and nothing on cycling.
Elsewhere in the world, progress is being made to decrease urban congestion by getting more people on transit systems and making cities more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians and less friendly to cars.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has stressed: “Our roads are not here for automobiles. Our roads are here for people to get around.”
NYC's Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is famously pro-bicycle. She rides a bike and knows what a difference proper protection for cycling can bring. Critically, NYC's DoT also knows that designing for transport modes other than the car brings huge financial rewards.
After the construction of a protected bicycle lane on 9th Avenue, shops saw a 49 percent increase in sales. In the rest of Manhattan, shops saw only a 3 percent increase in retail sales. When the city converted an underused parking area in Brooklyn into a pedestrian plaza, retail sales increased by 172 percent.
And a US study has shown that people getting about a city on bicycles spend more in cafes and shops, over any month, than motorists. People who drive to these establishments spend more per visit; but those on bikes visit more often and therefore spend more overall.
The economic benefits of building infrastructure for transport modes other than the car are clear, but British business organisations have yet to wake up to this fact.