'Far more ambition' needed to promote cycling and walking
The Government's cycling and walking investment strategy "won't be worth the paper it's written on" unless backed by sustained funding, cycling campaigners claim.
British Cycling policy adviser and 1992 individual pursuit Olympic champion Chris Boardman believes "far more ambition" is needed if Britain is to create a cycling and walking culture to rival countries like Denmark and the Netherlands.
His comments come as the Government launched its blueprint to encourage more walking and cycling with the aim of boosting the number of people who get around by bike or on foot by 2040.
It will help the economy and cut congestion while also improving health and air quality, according to Transport Minister Robert Goodwill.
He said: "Realising our ambition will take sustained investment in cycling and walking infrastructure. That's why we have committed over £300 million to support cycling and walking over this Parliament and this will increase further when spending on enhancing and maintaining existing infrastructure is taken into account.
"Delivering this long term plan will require patience, persistence and a change in attitudes - amongst Government, local bodies, businesses, communities and individuals. We cannot afford not to grasp the opportunities available and we are determined to make this country a cycling and walking nation, comparable to the very best in the world."
British Cycling and CTC, the national cycling charity, are calling for the objectives and funding proposals in the draft strategy, issued today for consultation, to be strengthened.
They point to the parliamentary Get Britain Cycling report which called for investment in cycling of at least £10 per person annually, rising to £20, in order to boost cycle use to 10% of trips by 2025, and to 25% by 2050. The draft Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy provides central Government funding of just £300m over period 2015-20, amounting to just £1.39 per person outside London, the campaigners said.
British Cycling and CTC also claim that its target to double cycling trips by 2025 implies even lower growth outside London, especially after allowing for population growth. It would effectively boost cycle use from less than 2% of trips today to around 3.5%. Cycling makes up 19% of trips in Denmark and 27% in the Netherlands - where spending on cycling is around £24 per person annually.
Mr Boardman said: "The truth is that without sustained funding, this strategy won't be worth the paper it's written on. We know that when faced with other priorities like road maintenance, saving bus routes and new housing developments, cycling and walking will be put at the bottom of most councils' to-do lists."
CTC's policy director Roger Geffen suggested that some of the motorway and trunk road budget should be moved towards cycling and walking.
The consultation ends on May 23 and the final strategy is to be published in the summer, when the Government will also issue guidance to local bodies on developing local plans.
A new independent expert committee is to be set up by October 2016 to help advise and implement the strategy.