Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, has reacted quickly to the government’s announcement yesterday that it was suspending all transport projects not currently under contract as part of its spending review, saying that it should focus on smarter travel options that provide the best return on investment.
The government’s decision puts £1.6 billion worth of projects at risk ahead of a financial review that will take place in the autumn following a joint review of spending by the Treasury and the DfT. Immediate cuts have been made in the road safety budget as well as money put aside to address urban congestion, to the tune, respectively, of £17.2 million and £7.9 million.
The Times quoted Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, who recently said he could never contemplate cycling in London, providing sharp contrast with his predecessor, keen cyclist Lord Adonis, as saying: “I am taking this action to ensure that no taxpayers’ money is spent unnecessarily on transport schemes that are now under review.”
He continued: “If we are to succeed in reducing the UK’s record budget deficit, it is vital that not a single penny is wasted and we get the maximum value for money for every project.”
Jason Torrance, Policy Manager at Sustrans, said: "As scrutiny on public spending is intensified we believe it is more important than ever that investment is focused on interventions that deliver high value for money, and benefits across Government.
"Large road schemes often have a return on investment of less than £2 for every £1 spent. But we believe there are better, smarter ways to spend money. The work of Sustrans consistently proves that helping people to use their cars less for short local journeys delivers multiple benefits: not least financially - using the government's own cost benefit system local walking and cycling schemes shows a return on investment of £15 to £33 for every pound spent."
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.