£15 million set aside to improve safety of cyclists at junctions in England - but Sustrans calls for more

Amount announced today by Transport Minister Norman Baker is dwarfed by sums spent on many individual road schemes

by Simon_MacMichael   June 26, 2012  

Frideswide Square, Oxford © Simon MacMichael.jpg

Transport Minister Norman Baker has today announced that £15 million is being made available to local authorities in England, other than in London, for schemes to improve the safety of cyclists at junctions. That sum however is dwarfed by those spent on many individual road improvement schemes each year, and the head of sustainable transport charity Sustrans has called on the government to step up investment in making junctions safer for cyclists by allocating “a reasonable proportion” of the Highways Agency’s annual budget to safety improvements.

Announcing the funding jointly with Road Safety Minister Mike Penning, Mr Baker said: “I am delighted to be able to provide today a further £15 million to improve cycle safety, by enabling local authorities to tackle proven dangerous junctions. This investment – alongside a number of other initiatives we have progressed – will make our roads a safer place for everyone using them.

“Cycling is a fantastic way of getting fit, reducing congestion and improving the environment, and cyclist safety matters hugely,” he added.

The money made available today is additional to £15 million previously announced to improve the safety of junctions in London, and only local authorities outside London will be able to apply for money from the new fund.

Commenting on the announcement, Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of Sustrans, said: “Safety is the biggest concern for both cyclists and would-be cyclists so it’s about time the Government stepped in to make it safer to get around on two wheels.

“This investment is a small step in the right direction, but £15 million isn’t nearly enough to make it safe, easy and enjoyable for everyone to travel by bike – David Cameron must stick to his promise and invest a reasonable proportion of the Highways Agency budget in cycling for all.”

Excluding London boroughs, there are nearly 400 local authorities in England, so either the money would have to be spread very thinly – the fund would equate to less than £37,500 each – or, more likely, the vast majority of councils will miss out altogether.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said that local authorities would be required to submit bids for cash available under the fund, and that they would be expected to make their own contribution to any proposed works in order to secure funding.

It added that details of the scheme were being presented to its Cycling Forum, whose members include the Association of Chief Police Officers, Bike Right!, British Cycling, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), CTC Cyclenation, the Freight Transport Association, the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the London Cycling Campaign, Mineral Products Association, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), the Road Haulage Association, Transport for London and Sustrans.

By comparison, the funding announced today of £15 million is less than 1 per cent of the £1.608 billion invested by the Highways Agency in England’s strategic road network during 2010/11 alone; more than half that money went on just seven schemes, ranging from £276 million for works on junctions 16-23 of the M25 to £56 million on the A3 at Hindhead, the amounts reflectig just one financial year’s spend on those projects. It's also not a very big sum when set against the length of the UK road network - which the most recent estimate put at 245,000 miles, A roads and motorways account for just under 13 per cent of that total (with motorways making us less than one per cent) these roads account for 64 per cent of the UK's total traffic and are under the control of the DfT not local authorities.

As part of its Cities fit For Cycling Campaign, the Times newspaper has called for some 2 per cent of the Highways Agency’s annual budget of £4.9 billion, equivalent to a little under £100 million, to be allocated to cycling infrastructure.

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By comparison, the funding announced today of £15 million is less than 1 per cent of the £1.608 million invested by the Highways Agency in England’s strategic road network during 2010/11 alone

Do you mean billion?

Not surprising that the govt are just palming off token initiatives, they don't care about cyclists until there's an election at which point they'll point to this money as proof they do and promise the earth for the years to come.

What's most annoying is that the govt have given the same amount of money to London as the rest of England combined... I guess it helps that most of the more vocal cycling groups are London based and there are more high profile casualties but once again the north gets screwed. What's the odds that not a single penny of this money makes it's way north of Nottingham?

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
26th June 2012 - 16:29


Agree with drheaton's rant but i must also add the question - who is actually going to get their hands on this money ? Traffic engineers thats who.
And, as most of us know, traffic engineers know little or nothing about cyclists needs and will almost certainly come up with some hair brained schemes that will prioritise the car and leave peds and cyclists pulling up the rear.
Im sure some green paint will be thrown down here and there - some clumsy traffic islands put in and possibly some street clutter and signs thrown in for good measure.

posted by Some Fella [908 posts]
26th June 2012 - 16:59

1 Like

What difference does it make?

£15 million pounds sounds like a lot of money - and it is, from a personal perspective. For rebuilding and redesigning Britains roads...not so much.

Unfortunately that sum won't cover more than a fraction of the dangerous junctions in London alone, never mind Britain. It's a token gesture - the results of which no one will ever notice or be able to point to.

What's the betting no one ever knows or notices that they spent the money south of Nottingham...

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
26th June 2012 - 17:09


Perhaps rather than allocating 1 or 2% of the total highways agency budget for cycling projects (and hence concentrating that spending in very particular places ignoring the wider area and not really helping to improve the situation as a whole) they should ensure that 2% of each individual project budget is allocated to cycling provision whether that's in the form of provision at junctions, separated cycle paths on major roads or pedestrian/cyclist under/overpasses for very busy routes.

That way cycling provision would be considered as part of every new project without having to find millions out of a tight budget for headline projects.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
26th June 2012 - 18:29

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Without sounding selfish this is irrelevant to most of us. It will go on fixing a few junctions, mostly in London and the rest in other cities. I doubt it will have any effect on the rest of the roads.

posted by mattsccm [316 posts]
27th June 2012 - 7:51

1 Like

Agreed. £15m sounds like a big figure in personal wealth terms, but as a sum to fix crappy road junctions up and down the country to make them safe for cyclists? Forget it. You could do some fairly serious work in a single conurbation - Leeds or Sheffield, say - but spreading it over the whole of England is practically pointless. It would be interesting to know a bit more about how the bidding process works, and what the maximum amount the any LA could bid for would be.

Don't get me wrong - obviously cycling will only ever be a tiny proportion of the transport budget (we're super-low impact, remember?!) and it's good that at least some money is coming our way. It's just that this happens to be a pitifully small amount that will make very little impact on cycle safety (as opposed to some strategic law changes - which would effectively very little - on things like motorist liability, turn left on red and so on).

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1133 posts]
27th June 2012 - 10:06


I'm like a stuck record but urban speed limits are the key to safer cycling on routes most people would use. Installing and enforcing 20mph would mean an average speed reduction from 40mph in a 30mph area to errrrr... 30mph. Enforced speed reduction = better reaction time from drivers and safer cycling.

The government likes to associate speed with productivity as an excuse for not doing the bleeding obvious and slowing cars down so cyclists can share most commuting routes more safely.

My local MP supports the '20 is Plenty' campaign. Until cyclists push for it he can merrily back the campaign knowing he won't have to stick his neck out.

The irony is that I suspect plenty of cyclists don't want blanket 20mph limits either which is why Sustrans etc get sidetracked into discussing big budget cycle lane schemes (which naturally get kicked into the long grass by local councils).

In order to feel the gain we all have to feel the pain and if that means pootling around my local area at 20mph so that cyclists can share the road with me I'm happy to comply.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1218 posts]
28th June 2012 - 8:01

1 Like

David cameron is making a real prat of himself with the leaders of other civilised countries with these " token " offerings !
How much does his Security alone , cost the " taxpayer ", let alone his personal staff ?
Would he cut back on the " motoring Lobby " ? NO CHANCE !

Remember these monies being " doled out now " are less than the amounts he recouped when he had his big " Spending Cuts " initiative when he came into office and cancelled any number of Cycling Initiatives .

20MPH road signs throughout the country would cost far less , and would save " money wasting " in local council offices where they are applying " patches " to problem junctions .

20MPH urban speed limits will mean the motorist has more time to think and the " Cops " will be able to enforce better and safer driving .

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [409 posts]
28th June 2012 - 10:51


Neither re-engineering junctions nor 20mph zones are likely to have much effect on the largest cause of serious injury to cyclists - non-collision cycling incidents.
While less likely to be fatal than collisions, the numbers speak for themselves.

see http://www.hesonline.nhs.uk/Ease/servlet/ContentServer?siteID=1937&categ... for hospital data

and please visit http://www.betterbybike.info/non-collision-incidents to help establish the facts about the causes.

Injury Prevention Manager
NHS Bristol

posted by Rob Benington [16 posts]
28th June 2012 - 11:27

1 Like

Rob Benington wrote:
Neither re-engineering junctions nor 20mph zones are likely to have much effect on the largest cause of serious injury to cyclists - non-collision cycling incidents.
While less likely to be fatal than collisions, the numbers speak for themselves.

Jeez Rob. I had a look at the first link; That's a big Junk of data. I imagine hospital staffs biggest risk is choking on statistics. Big Grin

Saying a 20mph limit is useless as it only covers some accidents is a rather cock-eyed analysis. It's like saying stopping smoking isn't much point as you're still breathing in pollution from other sources. Lower speed means lower potential damage in collision incidents for all road users including pedestrians.

People flinging themselves off bikes onto hard surfaces on their own can't be stopped. We should concentrate on what can be fixed rather than digressing into what can't.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1218 posts]
28th June 2012 - 23:13


Not only is £15m a joke, it also conveys the wrong message - "Take care of cyclists at these junctions, continue to ignore and intimidate them everywhere else"

What we need is a commitment by the government, Local Authorities, and the Polce, to enforce the existing requirements in the Highway Code to give cyclists space on ALL roads and at ALL junctions.

I suggest the government spends the £15m on introducing a national enforcement campaign to give bikes the space that the Highway Code ALREADY recognises they need.

Bikes need to be 3 feet/1m from the kerb or any parked car. Add 3 feet/1m for the bike, and add another 3 feet/1m passing clearance (Much less than the clearance recommended in the HC.) Introduce a principle that bikes have priority in this zone (3m from any kerb, 3m from any parked car, 3m traffic works etc) and that for any collision in this area, a moving car is always at fault.
Continue this zone CONTINUOUSLY along ALL roads and ALL junctions. Make it a 3 point licence offence for any motorist to come within a metre of a bike when passing.

posted by Grumpyoldbiker [16 posts]
30th June 2012 - 16:26