Sustrans has described Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s award of £15 million in today’s Budget to help improve the safety of cyclists at junctions in London in as “a step in the right direction,” but has urged officials in national and local government to ensure that improvements are also made elsewhere in the country. The sustainable transport charity has also urged Mr Osborne to use money raised by a increase in fuel duty announced today to fund alternatives to car use, warning that families risk falling into “transport poverty.”
In his Budget speech delivered to the House of Commons earlier today, Mr Osborne said: “The Government will allocate £15 million to TfL for investment in cycle safety. This will include improved provision for cyclists at junctions across the capital currently under consideration in TfL’s Cycle Safety Junction Review.”
That review of junctions was announced by Mayor Boris Johnson last November following pressure from opposition politicians and cycle campaigners in the wake of a series of deaths of cyclists in the capital.
Eleanor Besley, policy adviser at Sustrans, commented: “Cycling is an incredibly convenient way to travel in London, but unfortunately many people are put off because they feel our roads and junctions are too dangerous.
“It is fantastic that the government has realised this and chosen to fund significant improvements to junctions within the capital.
“The funding adds to efforts in London which have already seen the publication of a cycle safety action plan and the development of a junction review process
“However, London is a step ahead of the rest of England and we now have to see London’s ambition being taken on board across the rest of the country both through national government and at the local level,” she continued.
“We need to see the government support towns and cities across England in making our roads safer for cycling, not just confine investment to the capital.”
She warned the Chancellor, however, that a planned 3p rise in fuel duty also announced today risked plunging many already cash-strapped families into “transport poverty” unless investment was made into providing alternatives to travel by car.
Urging Mr Osborne to use the additional revenues that would arise from that increase to fund local transport such as buses as well as making road conditions safer for cyclists and walkers, Ms Besley said: “British people need a choice about how we travel, not a choice between getting to work or affording the weekly shop.
“Public transport is unaffordable, unreliable and often doesn’t exist at all, many people need to have a car to get around.
“The Chancellor said this would be a fair budget for working people, without improving transport we can all benefit from, the Chancellor is forcing people to consider whether they can afford to get to work.”
Ian Drake, chief executive of British Cycling, also welcomed the £15 million given to TfL, saying: “This announcement is a good step in the right direction and shows that the government has listened to British Cycling on the issue of making sure junctions are designed safely.
“We want to get more people on bikes and, while cycling is not an intrinsically dangerous activity, we know that the perceived risks are a major barrier to participation. We will continue to push for the government to put cycling at the heart of policy so that this country gets the Olympic legacy it deserves.”
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.