CCN is urging cyclists to complain to keep up the pressure in the period up to the General Election: "The main parties are not keen for transport to be an election issue – we must make it one. If we don't do that, we can't be surprised if cycling is again made a scapegoat for the wider political ambitions of a future government."
The March issue the CCN's Network News said:
It's been a bleak start to 2005 for cycling, with decisions (or sometimes a lack of them) that have pulled the rug from under one initiative to promote cycling after another.
The government has refused to appoint a successor to the National Cycling Strategy Board (NCSB), which came to an end in January. The Department for Transport (DfT) had previously decided not to renew the contract of the English Regions Cycling Development Team. Proposals by the NCSB to commit £70m to cycling promotion have been turned down flat – not even £1 is on offer. The national targets for cycling growth have been ditched by government, who will also allow councils to set zero local growth targets. The government has refused to honour a promise of funding to promote cycle training, leaving the future of this initiative and the existing accreditation of trainers in the balance. Funding for small local transport schemes has been slashed. Safety Division has had sufficient funds to launch a new TV filler campaign on cycle helmets. Defying a request that the NCSB should see in advance and approve such projects, Road Safety has spent valuable money to produce ads that are factually incorrect and most likely to scare people from cycling. Indeed, Road Safety is committing even more funds to a new website for children, whose focus is the dangers of cycling together with scary stories of what can go wrong if its ill-considered messages are not heeded. And as the Government cut back funding to the country's 15 million ordinary cyclists, it gave £21m for the benefit of just 44 riders in the next Olympics. In practice, with its multi-billion pound budget, the DfT could easily find the level of funding sought for cycling. In recent years it has not spent its full settlement and there are always residual monies of tens of millions of pounds available.
Whilst cycling minister Charlotte Atkins seems genuinely concerned about the present crisis, her fellow ministers are ill-disposed towards cycling and have no fear of the cycling lobby. All this needs to be changed. It is time for cyclists to protest strongly to their MPs and the media about the lack of commitment to cycling by the Government, noting the huge amount of volunteer effort that recent decisions have negated and the total absence of joined-up thinking vis-a-vis climate change, health and other key policies.