Embassy response to Deputy Prime Minister's Cycle Funding Announcement

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain notes with interest but no real enthusiasm the announcement of further cycle funding for England by Nick Clegg today.

£214m of further cycle funding can obviously make some difference but it is a drop in the ocean. Even the £100m of Highways Agency funding over 6 years is put into perspective when placed against the £1.9bn capital budget for roads for just one year, 2014/151 . We also continue to be shocked by the poor quality of schemes that have been brought forward under the coalition's cycle funding, with schemes in Bedford and Oxford where £500k and £1m respectively are being mis-spent failing to provide safer junctions, among many others. Serious funding needs to be accompanied by a serious change in the way we design our roads.

Also announced today is the idea of "Bikeability Plus", as a pilot to target barriers to cycling. Bikeability presently has three levels, the highest of which (Bikeability Three) is already meant to take participants to a level where they can deal with "challenging roads and traffic situations"2. However there's no level of training which can give school-age children the ability to negotiate some of the barriers we've been putting in place in even recent road developments. We need to recognise that when it comes to cycling in the UK, it is not the children who are the problem - it's the infrastructure we expect them to cycle on. We should  be tearing down those barriers, not pretending they're not there.

If we are to follow our neighbours in the Netherlands in seeing serious rates of cycling it is vital that we think about design first. Not encouragement, not training. It is by the quality of the infrastructure and the adoption of sustainable safety as a principle in all roads that we unlock active travel. Sustainable safety would be about adopting new, clear guidance (like that in the Netherlands) at a national level to ensure that mistakes don't have serious consequences and active travel by foot or bike is the most appealing option. 

Commenting on the announcements today our Chair, Mark Treasure said:

Today, again, we hear a politician praise cycling in the Netherlands, wishing to see similar here. Wishing will not make it so, and nor will inadequate levels of funding, especially without clear and binding design guidelines. Only when we embrace the safest designs and the comprehensive and sustainable approach seen in the Netherlands will we start to grow towards comparable cycling levels and deal with real issues in society like obesity and inactivity.