A long campaigned for walking and cycling amendment has been added to the Infrastructure Bill.
In a significant step toward safer cycling, if adopted, the proposals will see the Government obliged to lay out its investment in cycling and walking in line with how the roads and railways are funded.
The amendment doesn't, at present, commit to funds or design standards, though will see civil engineers have to give strong consideration to cycling and walking when planning infrastructure.
With this commitment, design standards will now be under the microscope more than ever. There is a fear among cycling advocates that money could still be spent on more poor infrastructure.
Commenting on the news, British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, said:
“Transforming the way Britain travels is not something we can do overnight but this amendment represents a massive shift in thinking and most importantly, commitment. It brings us one step closer to realising our vision for a cycling nation.
“If passed, this Bill will mean that cycling can no longer be ignored as a legitimate form of transport. It makes the transport secretary directly responsible for setting targets and putting in investment.
“And this isn’t just about roads, it could require railway stations, offices, retail parks to all accommodate the needs of people on bikes. I expect all MPs and peers to do the right thing and vote through this amendment. This truly is a fantastic move and is one that reflects the actions we called for in our #ChooseCycling action plan, launched in parliament last year. British Cycling’s 100,000-strong membership, and everyone who rides a bike, should see this as the start of something really exciting.”
The news comes on the back of a report that suggests increased levels of cycling has the potential to generate £248 Billion for the economy. The public backs such investment too, according to a YouGov poll.
Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP, long-term cycling campaigner and co-chair of the all party parliamentary cycling group, said:
“I am really delighted that the government has seen the force of our argument and is writing into law the cycling and walking investment strategy.
“It is the right thing to improve health, the environment and congestion.
“My huge thanks go to all the MPs who signed my original amendment, all the people who contacted their MPs to persuade them to support it and the coalition of organisations who have helped to get this outcome.”
The CTC echoed other in welcoming the news, adding that with an election imminent it will be interesting to see which parties commit to funding. CTC CEO Paul Tuohy said:
“This is a massive step towards creating that “cycling revolution” the Prime Minister promised us two years ago. Thanks to the hard work of DfT officials, the All Party Cycling Group coalition partners and the thousands of supporters who have written to their MPs cycling in England looks to have a future.
“Now we need MPs to demonstrate a collegiate response by backing an amendment which can only better the health and wealth of the UK, and with the general election only months away we await with eager interest to hear how much funding each party would put into the investment strategy. ”
The cycling and walking investment strategy coalition of organisations includes British Cycling, Campaign for Better Transport, Campaign to Protect Rural England, CTC: the National Cycling Charity, Living Streets, Sustrans, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and the Richmond Group (British Heart Foundation, Asthma UK, British Lung Foundation, Age UK, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Diabetes UK, The Neurological Alliance, Macmillan Cancer Support, Stroke Association and Rethink Mental Illness).