Mayor & TfL announce £4m funding for Outer London's Biking Boroughs… finally
13 boroughs get the chance to bid for a share of £4m

Transport for London and the Mayor's Office have today announced that 13 of London's outer boroughs, the so-called Biking Boroughs, are to get £4m to spend to "create a local cycling culture" .

The money is not going to be sliced up in to 13 equal shares though (of £307,692.31p each) instead the boroughs will be invited to bid for a share of the money – TfL will then assess the merits of each bit and award funding accordingly.

We've confirmed with TfL this morning that the funding is the total for the three-year period as a whole, and not an annual sum, with the announcement itself talking of Funding for Biking Boroughs being "allocated for 2011/2012 with indicative funding for 2012/13 and 2013/14" but also says that "funding for the 3 year period needs to be spent by March 2014".

If the funding is spread over three years it would amount to an annual £1.33m per year (13 equal slices of £102,307.69p). By way of contrast the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme will be funded to the tune of £140m over six years, Barclays paid £25m for the naming rights alone, and as we reported last year heavy investment in the scheme has been contemplated. The hire bike scheme is the Mayor's flagship cycling policy, indeed he is accused of diverting money away from cycling infrastructure in the outer boroughs to pay for it the Orbital Link network of cycle paths was an early casualty of his mayoralty.

However the Mayor and his transport advisers seem to realise that for London's cycling revolution to really blossom cycling has to increase in the outer boroughs. According to TfL research more than half of the trips in the Capital that could be made by bicycle are in Outer London - a total of 2.4 million journeys a day, most of which are currently made by car – now something of a mantra for TfL officials. To capitalise on that fact last year during his Year of Cycling Boris Johnson, and TfL designated 12 boroughs: Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Haringey, Havering, Hillingdon, Kingston, Merton and Redbridge as Biking Boroughs, that number has since become 13 with the addition of Hounslow.

In a statement announcing the funding TfL said:

"The aim is to create a local culture of cycling with a focus on creating cycling hubs in town centre locations or key areas in the borough where the potential for increasing cycling is greatest. They will also receive extra support and expertise from TfL in a bid to encourage greater numbers of cyclists in their areas.

"£4m could pay for 40,000 new on-street cycle parking spaces or fund the training of 200,000 lorry drivers in safety and awareness of cyclists. Alternatively the money would cover training courses for 66,000 cyclists or 100km of quiet cycle routes in suburban areas. The decision as to what combination of cycling improvements the money would pay for will be made by the individual boroughs."

Each of the boroughs were awarded £25,000 to fund studies about how the number of local cycle journeys could be increased. To get Biking Borough status the boroughs had to pledge to make cycling a central part of their transport strategy from 2010 cycling London boroughs have been given much more latitude as to how they spend their transport funding (an approach that has been rolled out by the coalition government nationally since) that has meant that previously that spending for cycling that was previously ring-fenced is no longer protected in most London bouroughs which given the pressures on council transport spending nationally could be seen as a threat to the targets for increased cycle usage in London set down by the previous Mayor, Ken Livingstone, and adhered to by the current incumbent, Boris Johnston.

Last month at the end of his Year of Cycling, Mayor Johnson once again returned to the subject of growing cycling in the outer boroughs and "nudging" suburban Londoners out of their. Now more than a year after they were announced* the Mayors plans can be seen to be taking shape. Announcing the funding today he said:

“I promised a cycling revolution for the whole of London. This funding will enable our friends in outer London to develop exciting ways to make cycling bloom in their boroughs making it easier to replace some short car journeys with pedal power. We want healthier Londoners breathing better quality air on less congested roads and we all want an economic boost to our local shops and town centres. I believe developing Biking Boroughs can make this happen."

TfL and the Mayor say three key themes emerged from the strategies put together by the individual Biking Boroughs:

  • Cycle hubs – town centre locations with a high density of potential cyclists and trips where boroughs should invest in cycle infrastructure
  • Cycling communities – residential areas of high cycling potential where investment should be focused on breaking down the barriers to cycling
  • Promotional activities – events to raise the profile of cycling across the borough.

Bid applications go out to the Boroughs next week and they have until 31st of March to get them in.

The sustainable transport charity Sustrans has welcomed news of the funding,with its policy advisor in London, Eleanor Besley, saying in a statement this morning: "Sustrans has been supporting and encouraging the development of Biking Boroughs over the last two years, so we're delighted that the Mayor has today announced funding to support it.

"We know that the biggest potential for increasing cycling levels and meeting the Mayor's objectives for a London cycling revolution is in the outer boroughs, where around half of car journeys are under two miles - a distance that is easily cycle-able by most - and where levels of physical activity are lower than elsewhere in London, at considerable cost to the NHS.

"Our work has shown that the best results come from a mixture of building safer and more attractive cycling routes and encouraging people to use them, so we look forward to seeing that become a reality in outer London."

*As road.cc reported last year during the long gap between the announcement of the Biking Boroughs and actual funding being stumped up fears were voiced that the scheme had been parked while funding was diverted in the London Cycle Hire Scheme.

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.