Which local authorities are boosting biking, and which are failing?

We don't yet know. But they do. 149 English local authorities have just been sent confidential assessments of the progress they are making in delivering pro-cycling programmes. The assessments were ordered by the National Cycling Strategy Board for England and carried out by the 'nuclear-powered' English Regions Cycling Development Team. But there will be no, official, naming-and-shaming of the under-performing LAs.
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Individual assessments have now been sent in confidence to all local highway authorities in England, inviting their comments. Summary sheets have also gone to the Department for Transport and the Government’s regional offices, to help inform their judgments on this year's Annual Progress Reports.

Following an opportunity for each local highway authority to comment on the assessments, the ERCDT’s regional coordinators will work with individual authorities to conclude agreed action plans for each area.

Steven Norris, Chairman of the NCS Board), said:

“We now have a very detailed knowledge of the plans and progress made on cycling by all 149 local highway authorities in England. This has identified both good and bad practice, and made it clear where we need to focus future attention. We aim to work closely with local authorities to help them improve their performance and deliver increased opportunities for people to cycle.

“We intend to publish summaries of the assessments for all the local highway authorities before the end of this year, after each authority has had a chance to comment and to work with the ERCDT coordinators in refining its proposed action plan. We will not be publishing detailed league tables of the scores that have been applied, and I want to emphasise that it is not our intention to name or shame particular authorities. Instead, we are prepared to work closely with them, to help them contribute positively to achieving the national targets for growth in cycling.”

The audits involved a structured methodology and scoring system to assess each local highway authority’s performance in terms of policy, institutional arrangements and support, and implementation on the ground. Information was gathered from highway authority policy documents; from strategies and progress reports; published data; site audits; and exchanges with individual highway authority officers.

Over 100 separate indicators were identified as part of the detailed assessment process, and these fed into scoring system used for each of 10 key criteria. The assessments also contain a shortlist of recommendations intended to form the basis for action plans for each authority area.

The regionally-based English Regions Cycling Development Team (ERCDT) is run by AEA Technology (the former Atomic Energy Authority), and reports to the National Cycle Strategy (NCS) Board. The ERCDT audits the implementation of the NCS and assesses the quality of cycling facilities at a local level, identifies problems preventing the growth of cycling in an area and seeks solutions to overcome them.

The National Cycling Strategy was launched in 1996. It aims to establish a culture favourable to the increased use of bicycles for all ages. The central target in the strategy is to quadruple the amount of cycling trips (based on 1996 figures), by 2012.

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