Road safety charity IAM has welcomed new investment in Britain’s motorway and A road network announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his Autumn Statement this afternoon, but has said that priority needs to be given to repairing existing defects such as potholes that expose those on two wheels to a particularly high degree of danger.
Among the 20 major schemes that received the green light from the Chancellor today, only one, in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, makes any mention of cycling, with approval of an inner relief road that will allow the town centre to be pedestrianised with “enhanced pedestrian and cycle features.”
In all, the government plans to spend £5 billion from now until 2015, and a further £5 billion in the following five years, on a range of infrastructure projects together worth £30 billion, with the balance provided by the private sector.
The cash injection, which the government says will also ease unemployment, will be spent on schools and energy projects as well as in transport, where major schemes to benefit include extensions of the Tyne and Wear Metro and London Underground’s Northern Line.
More than £1 billion is to be spent on attempts to relieve congestion and other improvements to major roads, including £270 million that will enable use of the hard shoulder on the M3 and M6.
The interchange between the M1 and M6 will benefit from a £150 million overhaul, while £110 million has been set aside for the Kettering Bypass on the A14, £160 million to widen the A453 and £110 million for the A45/46 Tollbar End improvement scheme.
Smaller projects including ones aimed at “removing bottlenecks and improving safety and road layout” will benefit to the tune of £220 million.
IAM chief executive Simon Best commented: “£270 million for managed motorways is good news. In some cases managed motorways have halved the number of crashes. They also ease congestion and cut carbon emissions. The extra money for our A roads is also welcome. But while today’s announcement will help, we need serious and sustained investment across the UK’s road network.
“Our roads are crying out for basic maintenance. Crumbling roads and potholes are a serious problem and a road safety hazard, especially for those on two wheels.”
That danger was highlighted last week through the inquest into the death of 67-year-old cyclist Margaret Nicholl, who died in March from injuries sustained when she was thrown from her bike after hitting a pothole on a descent in Somerset.
The AA has warned that there are more potholes awaiting repair now than there were 12 months ago.
Mr Osborne insisted: “This all amounts to a huge commitment to overhauling the infrastructure of our nation. We will match it by overhauling the digital infrastructure too,” he added, with plans announced to roll out superfast broadband to nine in ten homes.
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.