The Cycle Touring Club of Great Britain has lashed out at the government over its draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, effectively saying that for even this modest policy to work, cash needs to follow the warm words.
Chris Boardman, British Cycling policy advisor said of the strategy, “Cycling’s ability to tackle serious societal issues such as obesity cannot be achieved on the cheap. This consultation exposes The Prime Minister as reneging on the ‘cycling revolution’ he promised us three years ago.”
The draft strategy has allotted £300 million for cycling and walking outside of London between 2015–20 that amounts to just £1.38 per cyclist. If compared to The Netherlands this is very low – the Dutch government invests £24 per cyclist.
Roger Geffen, Policy Director of the CTC put this comparison into perspective: “Despite its laudable aim to normalise cycling and walking by 2040, this strategy’s draft targets suggest that, outside London, English cycle use would eventually reach Dutch levels by the start of the 23rd century, while its funding allocations mean even slower progress.” A 200 year policy for any government is completely unheard of!
A report published by the CTC, written in conjunction with the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group called Get Britain Cycling was published in April 2013 and called for an average investment of £10 per cyclist by the government. It seems that the government’s response of £1.38 per cyclist has irritated those in the cycling community. Geffen added, “If ministers are serious about their stated aims, they need to reallocate some of their £15bn motorway and trunk road budget towards cycling and walking. That could help tackle congestion, pollution, physical inactivity and climate change, whereas roads spending will do the exact opposite.”
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.”
The UK is a small country where most journeys are done within walking or cycling distance. Our roads even outside London are terribly congested and are downright dangerous for cyclists in places. We have an obesity problem that no ‘sugar tax’ could fix, and thousands of people are dying due to pollution every year. Cycling seems to answer so many of these problems yet the government in its short termist approach to nearly everything it does is failing the British public by ignoring cycling as a solution to all of those problems. There is money out there, and according to cycling campaigners it just needs to be reallocated to make the UK a safer, less congested and healthier country to live in!