Government brings ''national'' back into planning for cycling

Ahead of today's parliamentary debate on cycling DfT releases a consultation version of its Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan.
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The Department for Transport has outlined plans to double cycling by 2025 and to explore how further funding can be generated for cycle schemes across England. While many of the coalition government's previous announcements on cycling have majored on "localism" – leaving it up to local authorities to deliver on cycling – the new consultation seems to recognise there has to be national leadership, too. The DfT is calling on local authorities which are interested (not all will be) to partner with national government to become more walking and cycling friendly.

A statement from the DfT says: "The government’s vision is that cycling, alongside walking, becomes the natural choice for shorter journeys, regardless of age, gender, fitness or income."

The DfT adds that: "Cycling and walking not only cut pollution and congestion on our roads, but also have significant health and wellbeing benefits.

The government’s aspiration is that – working with local government, and businesses - cycling and walking could achieve a minimum funding equivalent to £10 per person each year by 2020-21 – "and sooner if possible."

The money invested in the eight cycle cities – and TfL funding in London – is already in excess of £10 per head per year.

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The new Delivery Plan will help to persuade more people to take to two wheels by setting out specific actions to improve leadership, funding, infrastructure, planning and safety, said transport minister Robert Goodwill, adding:

“This government is serious about making the UK a cycling nation. We have doubled funding since 2010, with £374 million committed between 2011 and 2015.

“We want cycling and walking to become the natural choices for shorter journeys, kick starting a cycling revolution that will remove barriers for a new generation of cyclists.

“This strategy provides a road map for the way forward.”

The DfT wants to forge partnerships between the government and local authorities – in exchange for signing up to a series of actions to deliver ambitious changes in cycling and walking, local authorities will receive access to supporting tools and incentives, including priority access to funding, knowledge sharing, and sector expertise.

The plans also sets out further work to "cycle proof" England's road network, to ensure that cyclists are considered at the design stage of new and improved road infrastructure.

Best practice will be highlighted, with work to develop guidance for engineers and other professionals working on cycling infrastructure to ensure they have access to skills development and guidance on how to design best practice cycle infrastructure.

The delivery plan stresses that "strong leadership is critical at both a national and local level." It claims that the "Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, supported by their Ministers, are committed to creating a step change in walking and cycling in England."

But where will the money come from, asks Sustrans Policy Director, Jason Torrance, who said: “Today’s aspiration to explore an investment of £10 per head for cycling is a welcome step in the right direction, but the most vital ingredients for cycling’s success are missing from the plan.

“Without any indication of where this money will come from and with targets that are too distant and lacking in ambition, today’s announcement is more of a wish list than a plan.

“Getting the population moving is a critical issue. Without a significant increase in the number of people cycling and walking their local journeys Britain will come to an economic standstill; overcome with congestion and the cost of the physical inactivity crisis.

“Now is the time to transform Britain into a cycling and walking nation by building on today’s announcement to set ambitious targets and using the next budget to invest £10 per head in cycling through existing funding arrangements.”

In his initial response to the Cycling Delivery Plan, Paul Tuohy, CTC Chief Executive: "If we can afford long term strategies for our roads and railways why not for cycling? It has such huge benefits to the economy and the environment, our waistlines and our wallets it would be foolish not to.

“With the Chancellor’s deadline to comment on what should be in his Autumn Statement tomorrow, I urge MPs and the public to voice their support today for CTC’s call for funding4cycling."

To read the report, click here.

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