Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will today announce £214 million in funding for cycling at a summit in Bristol. The money will be divided between the eight cities which have already received Cycle City Ambition funding and the Highways Agency to improve conditions for cyclists on its roads.
£114m of additional money will go to Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Norwich and Bristol to continue progress over the three years 2015/16 to 2017/18. The formula for deciding how much each city gets has yet to be announced.
£100m of funding is earmarked for the Highways Agency to improve cycling conditions along and across the Highways Agency’s network of major trunk roads. The Agency, soon to be turned in to a company owned by the Government, is also responsible for the country's motorway network. Cyclists are not of course allowed on motorways, but the possibility of cycle routes alongside motorways is something that is likely to arouse interest amongst campaigners. Recently we reported how the Belgian region of East Flanders plans to invest in a 600km network of fast cycling routes linking up major population centres for fast riding cyclists.
Cycling organisations have welcomed news of the expected funding announcment. However, Sustran's Chief Executive also contrasted the amount being given to cycling with the £24 billion the coalition has earmarked for spending on roads, while CTC Chief Executive Paul Tuohy reiterated the organsation's call for the equivalent of at least £10 per person per year to be spent on cycling.
In a statement responding to the announcement Mr Tuohy said:
"“This new funding certainly moves the Prime Minister’s ‘cycling revolution’ up a gear, and the three years of committed funding will be very much welcomed in the 8 cities due to receive it.
“This has been a hard fought interim victory, not just for the cycling campaign community but also for the Department of Transport staff and MPs who’ve worked hard with us to Get Britain Cycling.
“We now need to keep pushing leading politicians in all parties to raise the annual funding for cycling up to the level of at least £10 per person, increasing progressively to £20 as cycle use rises – not just for 8 cities but for the whole of Britain.
“So our message to local authorities and campaigners everywhere is, ‘Let’s keep up the pressure, it’s starting to work!’ The public, the media and around 100 MPs of all parties have all supported calls for annual investment in cycling of at least £10 per person, wherever they live. If we want to be confident that Britain’s long-awaited ‘cycling revolution’ is truly underway, that’s the next milestone to aim for. This would provide huge benefits for our health, wealth and well-being.”
The Government recently published evidence showing that investing in cycling delivers over £5 of health and other benefits for every £1 spent.
Sustrans, the charity based in Bristol where today's conference is taking place, says it welcomes the investment, but urged the government to commit itself to consistent spend on cycling.
Its chief executive, Malcolm Shepherd, said: “This is an invaluable commitment from government to cycling at a time of local spending cuts that spans this and the next Parliament.
“This must be a call to action for local decision makers at a time when the government is committed to spending £24 billion on roads and wider investment priorities are being set."
He added: “Longer term, dedicated funding of at least £10 per head is the key to transforming Britain into a cycling and walking nation and we look forward to working with government to secure this.”
Last year’s Get Britain Cycling report from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group called for annual spending of a minimum of £10 a head to provide safe infrastructure for cyclists.
However, the government’s Cycling Delivery Plan, published last month in draft form, said only that it would “explore” how to raise funding to that level.
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.