The House of Lords will today consider an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill aimed at stemming the fall in spending on cycling and walking. The amendment is supported by a number of organisations, with Sustrans calling it "a golden opportunity" to ensure funding is in place.
Tabled by Lord Berkeley, secretary to the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, and Lord Teverson, the amendment seeks to bring investment in walking and cycling into line proportionately with that for the road and rail networks.
The Coalition Government aims for the Infrastructure Bill, announced in last year’s Queen’s Speech, to become law by next March, just two months before the general election.
Some parts of the bill extend to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the sections relating to investment in road infrastructure relate only to England.
It will see the greatest investment in the country’s road network since the 1970s, but will slash spending on cycling and walking from 2016 onwards.
The proposed amendment urges the government to adopt a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to guarantee funding and put in place key performance indicators.
The strategy would be split into four parts, covering:
• A long-term vision to increase walking and cycling rates across the whole population, in rural as well as urban areas
• A ‘Statement of Funds Available’ for the next five years that would be spent specifically on cycling and walking
• A detailed Investment Plan of programmes and schemes - for example to improve cycle-rail integration, retrofit safe walking and cycling paths along busy roads and give provincial towns and cities London-style cycling measures and exemplary public spaces and
• A Performance Specification of measures and targets - for example increases in cycling and walking levels, improvement in safety, and the proportion of schools and stations with safe routes to them.
However, in its draft Cycling Delivery Plan, published last month, the government set targets for cycling that campaigners said lacked ambition, while in terms of funding it said only that it would “explore” how to increase investment to £10 per person per year by 2020 or 2021.
The six organisations backing the amendment being tabled today say that it is essential that the government does not waste the chance to put dedicated funding in place for cycling and walking.
Jason Torrance, policy director at the sustainable transport charity Sustrans, said: “The Infrastructure Bill provides a golden opportunity for Parliament to guarantee funding for cycling and walking beyond 2016, as it has done for rail and roads, as well as setting ambitious targets for change.
“The legacy of this vote could be a healthier, cleaner and more prosperous England – it’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.”
Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director at national cycling charity CTC added that the government needed to deliver on its promises.
He said: “The Prime Minister promised in summer 2013 to deliver a ‘cycling revolution’. Winter is coming to 2014 and the funding needed to achieve this is yet to arrive.
“We need to transform our roads, streets and communities into places where cycling is a safe and normal activity for everyone, as this will maximise cycling’s massive health, economic and other benefits.”
The other organisations backing the amendment are British Cycling, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Living Streets and the Campaign for Better Transport.
The latter’s chief executive, Stephen Joseph, said: "The imbalance between government investment in roads and promoting active travel options has got to stop if we're to reduce carbon emissions and give people the transport choices they deserve.
“Only ring-fenced funding for walking and cycling can ensure this happens," he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.