Government announces £214 million investment in cycling | Smart Highways Magazine: Industry News

Government announces £214 million investment in cycling

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The biggest single investment in cycling will be unveiled by the government today (27 November 2014).

In July, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he wanted to see the number of journeys made by bike more than doubled by 2020. Today, at a dedicated cycling summit hosted by him in Bristol and attended by Chris Boardman MBE, the Deputy Prime Minister will discuss how the government can make this happen with a package of measures totalling £214 million.

The investment will include:

  • £114m to secure funding to support the Cycling Ambition Cities Programme for the next 3 years (Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Oxford) accelerate their development of local cycling networks, increase protection for cyclists at junctions and traffic hot spots and help prevent accidents
  • £100m investment over the next years to improve the conditions for cyclists and walkers travelling alongside and crossing Britain’s most important and busiest roads – what’s called the strategic road network

The Deputy Prime Minister said: “I want to bring cycling down from the Alps and onto British streets. The inspiration and legacy of the 2012 Olympics and the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire this year has started a revolution in cycling for everyone, not just in velodromes, not necessarily in lycra, but for going to school or to work or to the shops.

“I’m committed to helping our dream of becoming a cycling nation, similar to places like Denmark and the Netherlands, become a reality. The rewards could be massive. Billions of pounds in savings for the NHS, less pollution and congestion, and a happier and safer population. In government, we’re putting the money down: now we need the public and local authorities to jump on their bikes and get us to the finish line.”

Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman MBE added: “This is a great stepping stone on the road to creating a safer environment and enabling more Brits to choose cycling as their preferred mode of transport.

“The new funds are fantastic for the eight cycling cities – giving them more security to plan for the next three years and I thoroughly welcome the announcement.”


What a derisory amount: it is equivalent to less than 1% of the Highways Agency budget; or 7 miles of new motorway; or 1 mile of the 73 mile CrossRail project.

The Netherlands invests consistently in their road network for bicycle traffic to the tune of about £21 per person per year, with funding coming from more than their equivalent of the DfT (they recognize the massive benefit having a healthy population has on their health budget, for example).

The UK currently spends £1.37 per person per year – and funding is going to just 8 cities who are complaining about the poor quality of the results from the funding.

In fact, that £1.37 figure DECREASES by 10p to £1.27 per person per year once the new funding over the next 3 years is taken into account!

We’re already an order of magnitude off from recommendation no.1 in the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry report: to spend £10 per person per year, rising to £20; and there’s no hope of getting to 25% modal share as recommendation no.17 demands if investment doesn’t come and urgently.

The DfT themselves acknowledge that cycle schemes have a benefit-to-cost ratio of 5.5 to 1. Some cycle schemes are much, much higher at 35:1. Even the lowest scoring city was still doubling their cycle investment at 2:1.

As British Cycling have stated, if the UK became a cycling nation like the Netherlands or Denmark it could:
– save the NHS £17 billion within 20 years
– reduce road deaths by 30%
– increase mobility of the nation’s poorest families by 25%
– increase retail sales by a quarter

…and of course keep a lot of construction engineers busy creating the new roads network that is fit for humans.