Official: New cycle lanes are getting shorter
… and there's fewer of them too
This week in an answer to a parliamentary question the Department for Transport finally admitted that local authorities are reducing their investment in cycle lanes – from 405 km in 2001-2 to a mere 140 km in 2006-7, a 65% fall over the last 5 years. According to calculations by the national cyclists' organisation CTC, last year local authorities painted a pitiful 2.8 millimetres of cycle lanes for each person! That’s the length of this dash -.
Cyclists often bitterly complain of poor cycle facilities that stop and start randomly (see today's story on Brighton). If the figures on the average length of lanes built in the last few years are correct this is not likely to improve any time soon. These figures show that not only are the number of lanes being installed falling but the average length of cycle lanes has also declined from 869m to 553m. “This isn’t a surprise in a country where we spend 70 times more on roads than on cycling. What is even worse is even the few cycle lanes that are installed are too short and narrow, and often end where they are most needed.”said CTC’s Policy Co-ordinator Chris Peck.
The CTC is no calling on local authorities to dedicate at least 10% of their transport budget to walking and cycling. Where they do install a cycle lane, they need to ensure that it is designed correctly and that they consult local cyclists. This last point is crucial traffic planners who don't cycle often have a poor grasp of the real needs of cyclists. The Department for Transport's design guidance on cycle facilities is still waiting for to be published over 4 years after it was first drafted in 2004. Ironically this decline in providing cycle lanes is happening at a time when demand has never been higher for cycle paths. Figures released this week by the South East of Scotland Transport Partnership (Sestran) which installed newer more accurate static counters on paths show that usage of cycle paths in Edinburgh doubled in the first three months of this year, lobby groups are now calling for similar figures to be provided for on-road cycle traffic.