In today’s Autumn Statement by the Chancellor George Osborne there was an announcement of £42m to be placed in the Local Sustainable Transport Fund for cycling infrastructure, including cycling safety.
LibDem MP Julian Huppert, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said he didn’t yet know whether the £42m was new cash.
And a table in the statement doesn’t help. It says the Sustainable Transport Fund will get £20m in 2013-14; and £30m in 2014-15. Now, I’m not as hot on arithmetic as, say, the chancellor of the exchequer, but 20 plus 30 is 50. £42m or £50m, either way, it’s peanuts.
The detailed report that accompanies the Autumn Statement said:
"The Government is committed to ensuring that the road network is fit for the UK’s future transport needs. The Government is investing an additional £1.5 billion, of which £1 billion will be invested within this spending review period, to enhance and improve the road network and reduce congestion."
Just a few sections of one road – the A1 – will be given £378m, upgrading it to a motorway. Junction 30 of the M25 in London will be given £100m. A roundabout in the North East of England will have £64m spent on it, just in order to link it to the A184.
Cyclists will, partly, benefit from an additional £333m that will be spent on the maintenance of national and local roads, tackling potholes and the like.
Osborne said the Government is still assessing the feasibility of new ownership and financing models for the strategic road network.
The updated national infrastructure plan mentions the £42m for cycling and said the Government will "publish a Door to Door Strategy to support a well-connected, smart and sustainable transport system that works for everyone."
The claim is that "it will encourage people to make greener choices by enabling transport delivery agents to understand better the Government’s vision for the door to door journey and introduce initiatives that will make it easier and more convenient to make the whole journey through sustainable means."
If anybody knows what a "transport delivery agent" is, please get in touch.