The Department for Transport released the draft of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy on Easter Sunday. The strategy – known as CWIS, or Cee-Whizz – is woefully light on investment.
Phillip Darnton, executive director of the Bicycle Association, welcomed the publication:
"This is a very significant milestone for its recognition of everyday cycling as a partner alongside the Rail and Road Investment Strategies. It acknowledges the vital and increasing part which cycling can, and must, play in urban transport and door to door travel."
Ever the diplomat, Darnton added:
"The government's commitment to doubling cycling trips is encouraging, though practical funding issues to achieve this are not yet clear. The BA appreciates the opportunity to contribute to the DfT's consultation process, and will strive to work in collaboration both with government and key cycling stakeholders to help achieve a robust, properly funded and positive future for cycling in England."
Others have not been so diplomatic, with Cee-whizz being labelled as "swizz" by some on social media.
CTC's Roger Geffen is also critical:
“Despite its laudable aim to normalise cycling and walking by 2040, this strategy’s draft targets suggest that, outside London, English cycle use would eventually reach Dutch levels by the start of the 23rd century, while its funding allocations mean even slower progress."
He added: "If ministers are serious about their stated aims, they need to reallocate some of their £15bn motorway and trunk road budget towards cycling and walking. That could help tackle congestion, pollution, physical inactivity and climate change, whereas roads spending will do the exact opposite.
British Cycling's policy adviser Chris Boardman said:
“The Department for Transport has done some good work on cycling and walking, including developing processes to make it easier for local authorities to create infrastructure plans and identifying funding pots that could be used. But these are just baby steps. Far more ambition is needed if we have any hope of creating a cycling and walking culture to rival countries like Denmark and the Netherlands, let alone the government’s own modest targets.
“The truth is that without sustained funding, this strategy won’t be worth the paper it’s written on. We know that when faced with other priorities like road maintenance, saving bus routes and new housing developments, cycling and walking will be put at the bottom of most councils’ to-do lists.”
“The government’s own figures show that investment is barely at £5 per head. Cycling’s ability to tackle serious societal issues such as obesity cannot be achieved on the cheap. This consultation exposes The Prime Minister as reneging on the ‘cycling revolution’ he promised us three years ago. If the government won’t commit to £10 per head every year, this strategy is stalling before it’s even got started.”
It's important to remember that CWIS isn't just about cycling, it's also supposed to be a strategy for walking, too. If anything, CWIS is even weaker on walking than cycling.
Joe Irvin, CEO at Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, said:
“The strategy sets ambitions to reverse the decline in walking and to increase the number of children walking to school. But the lack of any measurable target for either is mystifying.
“Of all ways to travel, walking is the cheapest and most accessible for virtually everyone. Reversing the decline in walking would cut traffic jams and improve the nation’s health. Government action needs to happen now.”