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Sustrans appeals for local cycling funding to be promised beyond 2016: £64m against £1.5bn road building plans

There has been anger in Bournemouth as the government has rejected funding for a £1.2m scheme to promote safer cycling in the city.

Bournemouth Borough Council applied for £820,000 from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), which would have included training for young pedestrians and for adult cyclists and motorcyclists.

It would have also funded a media campaign to encourage road users to "respect each other‟s needs", a workplace cycle challenge, cycling festivals and a car club.

The plans also included the extension of a cycle hire scheme currently running at Bournemouth University and new crossings and improved links on key commuter routes.

Ian Kalra, transportation services manager at the council, told the Bournemouth Echo the news was “very disappointing” but the council had already done well to secure £20m from government towards sustainable travel.

“We remain committed to improving road safety and will continue to implement various measures in order to make travel easier, safer and more attractive across the town,” he added.

Cllr Michael Filer, Bournemouth's cabinet member for transport, said: “The town is undergoing enormous changes in roads, junctions, cycle lanes and general moves to allow safer, quicker and more sustainable transport throughout the area.

“If we can get 500 students cycling to school, it will save 2,000 car journeys by parents collecting and delivering,” he said.

Also this week the Department for Transport (DfT) turned down almost £1 million of funding to boost cycling in Bury St Edmunds.

The decision was branded “absolutely appalling” by one county councillor.

The DfT’s £800,000 contribution would also have funded initiatives at schools and local businesses to get people cycling.

Bury’s Green Party county councillor, Mark Ereira-Guyer, told the East Anglian Daily Times: “My fury about it is a lot of work has gone into a really sound proposal, to come up with a sustainable plan for the town that links in schools, businesses and the college.

“For the Government to basically refuse to support that I think is absolutely appalling. It’s west Suffolk being let down, and Bury St Edmunds in particular.”

44 new schemes have been funded for one year with a total of £64 million in investment by central Government.

Sustrans Policy Director, Jason Torrance, has called for a commitment from all political parties to extend and expand the LSTF beyond the planned limit in 2016 to ensure the future of green transport.

He said “Over the last four years, this green transport investment has begun to revolutionise the way people move around our towns and cities but just one year’s worth of LSTF funding will not bring about the cycling revolution that the Prime Minister says he wants.

"The £1.5bn allocated to road building over six years towers over this £64m investment to improve walking, cycling and public transport options in local communities.

“Government and political parties must commit to long term, dedicated funding for walking and cycling to end this postcode lottery and improve people's travel choices.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

19 comments

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martib [63 posts] 1 year ago
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"Bournemouth Borough Council applied for £820,000 from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), which would have included training for young pedestrians and for adult cyclists and motorcyclists." -

They could start with the drivers, I rate driving in Bournemouth as one of the most horrendous places to drive, let alone ride a bike. Think it has something to do with 'we have too much money, so we don't give a cr@p about anyone else' mentality by a lot of the residents. Living nearby I would only drive into Bournemouth if I absolutely needed too.

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userfriendly [538 posts] 1 year ago
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Maybe they should stop bleating about "revolution", might give some people ideas ...

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workhard [397 posts] 1 year ago
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We got money locally, in West Sussex, from LSTF without any help from Sustrans and in some instances within the county in the face of their opposition. They aren't interested in what actual real live local cyclists wants but in furthering their own agenda which is increasingly remote from anything other than leisure cycling.

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JeevesBath [155 posts] 1 year ago
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workhard wrote:

We got money locally, in West Sussex, from LSTF without any help from Sustrans and in some instances within the county in the face of their opposition. They aren't interested in what actual real live local cyclists wants but in furthering their own agenda which is increasingly remote from anything other than leisure cycling.

That does open the debate about where cycle funding should go. Is it better spent on improving the situation for existing cyclists (who it could be argued will cycle anyway) or encouraging new cyclists to take the first step by creating leisure routes that give them the ability to develop some bike skills before going onto the open road?

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Leodis [399 posts] 1 year ago
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I would say dodging dog walkers with extended leads, dog shite, glass and wild children a lot more stressful than riding on roads.

Sustrans are not interested with current cyclist needs, its been proven time and time again they are only interested in the Dutch dream and getting kids on bikes.

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JeevesBath [155 posts] 1 year ago
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Leodis wrote:

I would say dodging dog walkers with extended leads, dog shite, glass and wild children a lot more stressful than riding on roads.

Where I am, it's horse shite - sometimes practically across the entire path. Lovely after rain.
But still, it makes my 'rush hour' commute more pleasant than the dual carriageway or twisty narrow lane options that would be the alternative.

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bikebot [1635 posts] 1 year ago
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Leodis wrote:

I would say dodging dog walkers with extended leads, dog shite, glass and wild children a lot more stressful than riding on roads.

Sustrans are not interested with current cyclist needs, its been proven time and time again they are only interested in the Dutch dream and getting kids on bikes.

Nowt wrong with the Dutch dream and getting kids on bikes. Unfortunately, that seems to be something getting a bad rep' thanks to Sustrans using it as some sort of excuse for their poor infrastructure.

If any council is still designing cycle routes for the purposes of "leisure", they deserve a slap. The vast majority of cycling miles aren't leisure, they're transport.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1113 posts] 1 year ago
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Leodis wrote:

I would say dodging dog walkers with extended leads, dog shite, glass and wild children a lot more stressful than riding on roads.

Sustrans are not interested with current cyclist needs, its been proven time and time again they are only interested in the Dutch dream and getting kids on bikes.

Sustrans - going Dutch? I don't see it. Sustrans seem barely interested in cyclists at all. They mostly seem to be about leisure routes for pedestrians (out there in the countryside somewhere). I don't see any sign they are aiming for a Dutch mass-utility-cycling culture.

I don't see much evidence they are about getting kids on bikes either, at least not as far as kids being able to make practical journeys to school etc.

I genuinely don't fully understand what sustrans are about or what they are trying to achieve. I won't slag them off because I don't know what their objectives are, so I can't say they aren't meeting them.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1113 posts] 1 year ago
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JeevesBath wrote:

encouraging new cyclists to take the first step by creating leisure routes that give them the ability to develop some bike skills before going onto the open road?

That seems questionable. What are these 'bike skills' one can develop on leisure routes that will then allow you to handle traffic-filled real roads?

Actually learning to ride a bike is not hard (I just cycled round and round a car park for a bit!). The difficult bit is dealing with traffic, and leisure routes don't really do anything for that. Which is why I very much doubt many people will graduate from those leisure routes to the real roads.

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workhard [397 posts] 1 year ago
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JeevesBath wrote:
workhard wrote:

We got money locally, in West Sussex, from LSTF without any help from Sustrans and in some instances within the county in the face of their opposition. They aren't interested in what actual real live local cyclists wants but in furthering their own agenda which is increasingly remote from anything other than leisure cycling.

That does open the debate about where cycle funding should go. Is it better spent on improving the situation for existing cyclists (who it could be argued will cycle anyway) or encouraging new cyclists to take the first step by creating leisure routes that give them the ability to develop some bike skills before going onto the open road?

Good point, well made, I'd answer it two ways...

Do we have evidence of any significant cross over from the "safe" leisure route group to the open road group?
Why aren't our open roads safe enough, due to speed and volume of traffic, for folk to develop bike skills on?
Can you develop the necessary roadcraft to use a bike as Mon-Fri transport, rather than just a weekend toy, on leisure routes, especially off-road ones?

Ok that's three ways...

I think the answer is that cycling funds should be spent on both groups; encouraging new cyclists and 'rewarding' existing ones for (their pig-headed obstinacy in) remaining on the roads. Sustrans imo/ime have no interest in the latter group.

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Dapper Giles [69 posts] 1 year ago
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bikebot wrote:
Leodis wrote:

I would say dodging dog walkers with extended leads, dog shite, glass and wild children a lot more stressful than riding on roads.

Sustrans are not interested with current cyclist needs, its been proven time and time again they are only interested in the Dutch dream and getting kids on bikes.

Nowt wrong with the Dutch dream and getting kids on bikes. Unfortunately, that seems to be something getting a bad rep' thanks to Sustrans using it as some sort of excuse for their poor infrastructure.

If any council is still designing cycle routes for the purposes of "leisure", they deserve a slap. The vast majority of cycling miles aren't leisure, they're transport.

Nail and head there Bikebot.

We have some great cycle routes around my way and some terrible ones but I think you're right about many Councilor's perceptions of cycling. It seems to be looked at as either a leisurely hobby: something to do with the kids on a Sunday afternoon, or as a sport (tdf, cycle clubs, lycra louts and RLJs), and forget that for many cycling is a means of getting from A to B without relying on cars, buses, what have you.

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edster99 [334 posts] 1 year ago
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I just had a look on the Sustrans website - having not really thought about them for the last 15 years or so - and couldnt see anything that looked like a 'rewarding current cyclists' mention.

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JeevesBath [155 posts] 1 year ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
JeevesBath wrote:

encouraging new cyclists to take the first step by creating leisure routes that give them the ability to develop some bike skills before going onto the open road?

That seems questionable. What are these 'bike skills' one can develop on leisure routes that will then allow you to handle traffic-filled real roads?

Actually learning to ride a bike is not hard (I just cycled round and round a car park for a bit!). The difficult bit is dealing with traffic, and leisure routes don't really do anything for that. Which is why I very much doubt many people will graduate from those leisure routes to the real roads.

You could consider it a theory of progression. When learning to swim, you generally start off with floats and work your way from there.
I appreciate that it doesn't include traffic, but a shared use path can help to develop awareness of other users (faster cyclists, pedestrians, etc) and an increase in handling skills which can transfer to a road situation while still actually managing to get from point A to point B. Not everyone would have the patience to cycle round and round a car park. (I myself used to do endless circuits of the Tesco car park as a youth, but notably before Sunday trading became the norm! God, I'm old...  20 ).

Creating 'on road' routes is fine, but you can't build a segregated cycle lane on every road, so eventually the lane will run out and inexperienced cyclists would go "OK, where do i go now???".

It's just a theory at the end of the day, which I why I posed the question. Most Councils will have an objective of reducing congestion by encouraging alternative travel modes. Spending money on 'existing' cyclists isn't going to change the situation, so increasing uptake by novice cyclists would be the way to go. If there's a good way to satisfy both camps with one solution, no one seems to have found it yet.

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bikebot [1635 posts] 1 year ago
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I posted a few comments the other day about the differences between the Sustrans "Connect London" project, and the Quietway Network proposed by the mayors office.

In short, the Quietways are simply better. The Sustrans routes meander around, whereas the Quietways project set out with a number of much more useful objectives, including that they should be as direct as possible.

Which raises a really fundamental question. When the campaign group has proposals that are inferior to those in Government, what good are they?

If anyone wants to read the blog that first drew this to my attentioned, it's here - http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/sustrans-connect-lon...

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pmanc [194 posts] 1 year ago
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Now maybe I've missed something, but it looks to me like the money was intended for:

- promoting safer cycling
- training
- a media campaign (to encourage respect)

I was initially disappointed to see the headline, but this stuff is, for the most part, meaningless fluff.

Let's see money being invested in decent safe routes for bicycle journeys, rather than wasted on more "be nice to each other" campaigns.

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JeevesBath [155 posts] 1 year ago
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workhard wrote:
JeevesBath wrote:
workhard wrote:

We got money locally, in West Sussex, from LSTF without any help from Sustrans and in some instances within the county in the face of their opposition. They aren't interested in what actual real live local cyclists wants but in furthering their own agenda which is increasingly remote from anything other than leisure cycling.

That does open the debate about where cycle funding should go. Is it better spent on improving the situation for existing cyclists (who it could be argued will cycle anyway) or encouraging new cyclists to take the first step by creating leisure routes that give them the ability to develop some bike skills before going onto the open road?

Good point, well made, I'd answer it two ways...

Do we have evidence of any significant cross over from the "safe" leisure route group to the open road group?
Why aren't our open roads safe enough, due to speed and volume of traffic, for folk to develop bike skills on?
Can you develop the necessary roadcraft to use a bike as Mon-Fri transport, rather than just a weekend toy, on leisure routes, especially off-road ones?

Ok that's three ways...

I think the answer is that cycling funds should be spent on both groups; encouraging new cyclists and 'rewarding' existing ones for (their pig-headed obstinacy in) remaining on the roads. Sustrans imo/ime have no interest in the latter group.

I can't answer your questions as I don't have evidence, and I imagine nor does anybody else (hey, maybe I have just thought of a research grant application...).Consider this though:
A novice cyclist has two options for getting to/from work.
One, a 'leisure route' (shared use path/towpath etc). The five mile journey takes 30 minutes, and the cyclist has to contend with dog walkers, children etc.
Two: a road route which takes only 20 minutes to cover the same distance, with some marked cycle lanes. The cyclist has to negotiate four major junctions and be comfortable with being overtaken by several HGVs every mile of the journey, as well as content with the odd bus or delivery lorry parking in the cycle lane.

Which option would you try to sell them on if you are a Council trying to encourage them to ditch the car?

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bikebot [1635 posts] 1 year ago
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JeevesBath wrote:

Which option would you try to sell them on if you are a Council trying to encourage them to ditch the car?

I don't know the specifics of this proposal, but my general criticism of these choices is that the off road route is often optimised to be a leisure route. Councils should be building good alternative off road routes when they can, with proper surfaces and with sections that are separated so that cyclists can ride quickly.

And stop filling the damn things up with stupid infrastructure. There's an off road route near me that I would sometimes use, except some numpty installed a kissing gate at the end of it. The only way you can get through is to dismount and lift your bike above head height!

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JeevesBath [155 posts] 1 year ago
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bikebot wrote:
JeevesBath wrote:

Which option would you try to sell them on if you are a Council trying to encourage them to ditch the car?

I don't know the specifics of this proposal, but my general criticism of these choices is that the off road route is often optimised to be a leisure route. Councils should be building good alternative off road routes when they can, with proper surfaces and with sections that are separated so that cyclists can ride quickly.

And stop filling the damn things up with stupid infrastructure. There's an off road route near me that I would sometimes use, except some numpty installed a kissing gate at the end of it. The only way you can get through is to dismount and lift your bike above head height!

In an ideal world, I'd agree but the reality of funding means that compromises have to be made. A mixed use path will be far more financially viable as it can serve a greater demographic than a dedicated cycling-only route.
Agree about the infrastructure though. Recently they extended the cycle path near me, by sending it over a railway line which requires me to dismount and push/pull my way through two spring loaded gates. As a result, I stick to the road instead.

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bikebot [1635 posts] 1 year ago
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JeevesBath wrote:

In an ideal world, I'd agree but the reality of funding means that compromises have to be made. A mixed use path will be far more financially viable as it can serve a greater demographic than a dedicated cycling-only route.
Agree about the infrastructure though. Recently they extended the cycle path near me, by sending it over a railway line which requires me to dismount and push/pull my way through two spring loaded gates. As a result, I stick to the road instead.

I really don't think it does, or more accurately, will matter.

These projects are still cheap compared to all other transport infrastructure, and the political climate is shifting. See the stories this week about yet another commons report pushing to increase national funding. Before that, the discussion on here about the plans in Bristol was quite interesting, showing just how little railway expansion would be possible for the amount they want to spend on cycling.

It's time to start making the case not just for the money, but how it should be used and what the benefit would be.