Westminster’s latest Infrastructure Bill, set to become law next March and pitched as ‘the biggest shake up of the roads network in a generation, makes no mention of cycling and walking.
It’s a very far cry from the forward thinking Active Travel Bill in Wales that makes it a legal requirement for local authorities to plan and deliver routes that link up hospitals, schools and shopping areas with traffic-free routes and cycle lanes.
While those that have tabled the Infrastructure Bill have somehow managed to miss the entire Get Britain Cycling campaign and all the health, congestion, business and pollution benefits from investment in cycling, there is hope. Six national organisations have proposed an amendment – sponsored by Lords Berkely and Teverson, to help bring walking and cycling in line with the road and rail networks.
The amendment calls for a Cycling and Walking Investment strategy to set out a long-term vision, guaranteed funding and key performance indicators. It would be divided into four parts, setting out:
- a long-term vision to increase walking and cycling rates across the whole population, in rural as well as urban areas;
- a ‘Statement of Funds Available’ for the next five years that would be spent specifically on cycling and walking;
- a detailed Investment Plan of programmes and schemes – for example to improve cycle-rail integration, retrofit safe walking and cycling paths along busy roads and give provincial towns and cities London-style cycling measures and exemplary public spaces;
- a Performance Specification of measures and targets – for example increases in cycling and walking levels, improvement in safety, and the proportion of schools and stations with safe routes to them.
Sustrans Policy Director, Jason Torrance, said: “The Infrastructure Bill provides a golden opportunity for Parliament to guarantee funding for cycling and walking beyond 2016, as it has done for rail and roads, as well as setting ambitious targets for change.
“The legacy of this vote could be a healthier, cleaner and more prosperous England – it’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.”
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The imbalance between government investment in roads and promoting active travel options has got to stop if we’re to reduce carbon emissions and give people the transport choices they deserve. Only ring-fenced funding for walking and cycling can ensure this happens."
Martin Key, Campaigns Manager of British Cycling, said: “If Britain wants to become a true cycling nation, it needs proper planning and investment. The Infrastructure Bill is a route to influence the government to truly commit to make travelling by bike an attractive option for all people.”
Roger Geffen, Campaigns & Policy Director of CTC, the national cycling charity, said: “The Prime Minister promised in summer 2013 to deliver a ‘cycling revolution’. Winter is coming to 2014 and the funding needed to achieve this is yet to arrive. We need to transform our roads, streets and communities into places where cycling is a safe and normal activity for everyone, as this will maximise cycling’s massive health, economic and other benefits.”
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of Living Streets, said: “Facilities for people to walk and cycle are an integral part of our national infrastructure, vital for travel, health and the environment.
“The Infrastructure Bill provides Parliament with an opportunity to ensure investment in walking and cycling continues post 2016, in particular on the major roads managed by the new Highways Agency company.”
The sixth supporting national body is the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).