£15 million for improving dangerous junctions in England - welcome, but nowhere near sufficient

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain welcomes the Department for Transport’s announcement of £15 million additional funding to improve dangerous road junctions1, on top of the £15 million already announced for junction improvements in London. We hope, however, that these sums are merely the start of a programme of substantial investment in making Britain’s roads safe for cyclists of all ages and abilities, and not just a one-off response to campaigning pressure.

While £15 million may sound like a significant amount of money, in the context of recent funding announcements for road schemes it is pitifully small. The dualling of the A9 in Scotland, starting in 2015, will cost £3 billion alone2. A 2.5 mile stretch of the A23 is currently being upgraded at a cost of £87 million3. Contrast the £15 million proposed to remedy dangerous junctions with the announcement in May of six new road schemes which will cost, conservatively, more than £1 billion, on top of the £3 billion4 recently announced for upgrade work on Highways Agency schemes, and it's clear where the government's priorities lie. Even the £550 million the Treasury has recently managed to find, from unannounced departmental underspends, for its postponement of the fuel duty increase dwarfs the sums being dedicated to making cycling safer.

What we need is a significant proportion of the Highways Agency’s budget to be dedicated to new infrastructure designed to make cycling easier and safer. The announced £15 million will inevitably be spread very thinly. When you consider that £1 million is being spent on attempts to remedy just one roundabout in Bristol5, it's clear this sum won't do anything towards making England's roads safer overall.

Even that small sum will be wasted unless the Department for Transport engages with best European practice on the design of the proposed junction improvements for cycling. One of the dangerous junctions highlighted by the readers of The Times in response to their survey is Russell Square in central London – a junction redesigned only last year.

Improving the conditions on our roads has never been more urgent. Figures announced today show that serious cycling casualties rose 16% in 20116, while cycling traffic levels rose by just an estimated 2.2% over the same period. Sadly this is only the continuation of an upward trend in serious cycling casualties over the past five years - a trend which must not continue. Something is plainly wrong.

Cycling should be the quickest, easiest and most convenient way to get around. Yet the reality is that people are being seriously hurt or killed in ever increasing numbers. The money announced this week will not address the fundamental barriers to riding a bicycle in this country. The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain wants to see an end to cyclists being pushed to the margins; we want to see a network of direct, well-designed, separated cycle routes that are safe even for young children to use, not a bit of tinkering at the edges of our road network.


Press officer Mark Treasure  press@cycling-embassy.org.uk

Chair: Jim Davis 07545 598998 chair@cycling-embassy.org.uk