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New Government paper sets out the Coalition’s stall for transport development; cycling and walking not mentioned even once.

It’s official: cycling and walking aren’t recognised as viable modes of transport by the current UK Government.

That’s the only possible conclusion from the HM Treasury paper Investing in Britain’s Future, presented at Parliament today by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander. Alexander says that the coalition is the “greenest government ever” but there’s little to demonstrate that in the paper.

The Treasury’s plan is concerned mainly with private motor transport, with £28bn allocated to road improvements, and there’s no mention of the £1bn promised earlier in the year to establish an Office for Active Travel.

In fact active travel, in the sense of walking and cycling, can take a hike, it would seem. There are many pages – and a detailed appendix – on what needs to happen to the roads, and which schemes will be green-lighted.

Rail gets a section, although by ‘rail’ we mostly mean ‘High Speed 2 and Crossrail’ which will suck up the lion’s share of the funding. The ‘funding envelope’ for HS2 now stands at over £42bn.

Cycling, no pages

Cycling and walking don’t have any pages though. They’re not mentioned. Not even once. There’s no strategy for increasing modal share for other transport options for journeys into and across cities – even though the paper’s own congestion graphs show that’s the primary issue – and no commitment to include cycling and walking when roads are built or redeveloped.

The environment is given a paragraph by the “greenest government ever”.

“Reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions is at the heart of Government’s vision for transport, and is a key component of sustainable economic growth,” says the paper.

Low emission vehicles

Good news, so what’s the plan? “As technology develops, ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVS) will increasingly be the way forward,” it says. Read: more cars.  There’s no commitment to promote non-polluting, active travel. We just need different cars.

The road programme will be delivered by the Highways Agency which the Government plans to morph into a “publicly-owned corporation” which could open the door for large-scale road privatisation at some point in the future.

Alexander said that it would be, “An organisation that will have the long term funding certainty and flexibility to deliver the best possible road network for the UK’s motorists”. He’s in no doubt who roads are for, then.

More roads = more congestion

Using expansion of the road network as the overarching mechanism for reducing car-based congestion isn’t going to work. Studies invariably show that expansion of the space available just leads to more journeys.

Putting it into perspective, the 221 lane miles of motorway included in the plan would add room on the network for around 80,000 cars, even if they were placed end to end. There are over 31 million cars currently registered in the UK.

Road building is also of no benefit to the quarter of UK households who don’t have a car, and the restriction of transport choice to just more roads will give no respite to the millions of UK drivers who put themselves into poverty through the need – due to lack of other options – to run a car.

And many of the improvements to the existing road network involve making existing A roads into dual carriageways, which effectively shuts them to cyclists without accompanying cycling infrastructure.

It’s not all bad news: £10bn of the road fund is allocated to fixing up the existing network, with £6bn of that available to local authorities; enough, we’re told, to fill the equivalent of 19 million pot holes a year; that Local authority money should at least improve the local networks.

But it is mostly bad news.

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

22 comments

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zanf [964 posts] 4 years ago
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You have a space before the closing bracket of the URL that breaks the BBCode from parsing.

This is nothing less than what I have expected from this government and specifically in London, from the current mayor. Its all talk and fuck all delivered.

I shouldnt be surprised in the slightest by their audacity to call themselves the 'greenest government ever' yet have absolutely no reference to any other transport except vehicles and stupid train ideas that will do nothing for the country.

I think I am done with this country.

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alotronic [530 posts] 4 years ago
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Truly staggering, on so many fronts, unspeakably stupid and short-term. But that's politics for you - conservative, labour, whatever...

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timothy [38 posts] 4 years ago
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Bye bye then. Would anyone else other than the Green Party have included cycling. Ed Balls or Milliband on a bike? No can't see it, did not see it in 13 years.

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ribena [185 posts] 4 years ago
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I really think the main political parties still see cycling as "an expense" whereas roads are an investment because it allows people to get to work or go shopping to stimulate the economy.

Of course, theres a lot of evidence to the contrary, but i suspect (as with HS2) decisions are made mostly based on pre-existing beliefs and ideals, regardless of whether they are supported by evidence.

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cat1commuter [1422 posts] 4 years ago
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"Greenest government ever." That must be green as in gangrene!

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cidermart [501 posts] 4 years ago
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Blue and Yellow make Green so technically he's not lying  19

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therevokid [1015 posts] 4 years ago
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I was shocked and surprised to see more for cars and
naff all for everything else ... NOT !

Get more cars on the road to rack in more taxes ... easy
win and they only have to worry about it for 4 years then
the congestion and pollution can be someone else's problem

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mybrainthinksim... [24 posts] 4 years ago
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To be fair this is a document talking about motorways, major trunk roads and rail. It's about transport infrstructure, as in moving goods and people over long distances.
Improving capacity on roads that already aren't fit for cycling, means less back lane rat runners too.

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700c [1167 posts] 4 years ago
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mybrainthinksimfitterthanireallyam wrote:

To be fair this is a document talking about motorways, major trunk roads and rail. It's about transport infrstructure, as in moving goods and people over long distances.
Improving capacity on roads that already aren't fit for cycling, means less back lane rat runners too.

+ 1 I was going to make this point. They are talking about travel only in the context of infrastructure spending projects, with the aim of getting economic growth.

Cycling investment needs to be at a local level, supported by central government spending commitments and policy, of course.

That said, and going off topic slightly, HS2 is a terrible idea and complete waste of money.

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joebee9870 [73 posts] 4 years ago
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Thats the cycling revolution over. They spent all the money on silly ideas and drawings and patting each other on the back. Anybody that thought anything other than that is delusioned.

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700c [1167 posts] 4 years ago
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joebee9870 wrote:

Thats the cycling revolution over. They spent all the money on silly ideas and drawings and patting each other on the back. Anybody that thought anything other than that is delusioned.

Err.. Well it might be, but hopefully not!

A bit cynical, methinks..

This paper (on economic growth through infrastructure spending), isn't an indicator either way.

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a.jumper [850 posts] 4 years ago
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did they put this out just before the tour to avoid more cycling pressure if we get a second British winner?

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Carl [142 posts] 4 years ago
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Spend £42bn on cycling, not an idiotic railway line that's already over budget before building has even started.

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lushmiester [195 posts] 4 years ago
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I don't think they view investing in cycling as vote winning as promising to spend big money [you do not have] on big projects at some unspecified future date. However, being photograghed with chris froom after he wins the TDF is cheap, looks like you're supportive of cycling, green transport and is vote winning. After all we're cyclst and They probably think we're all too drugged up to notice their hypocracy

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swelbo [33 posts] 4 years ago
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haha..what a joke.

Is there a reason why every road they build can't have a cycle lane attached?

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WolfieSmith [1383 posts] 4 years ago
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Trying to get Liverpool and Sefton Councils to literally join up their thinking on cycle networks hits the same buffers. They both only discuss cycling in terms of part of larger 'Highway planning proposals' -which means either tacking on the usual bits of cycle lane that run out where they needed or abandoning plans completely as cars take precedence for limited funding.

.

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nostromo [55 posts] 4 years ago
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It's the economy, stupid.

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CotterPin [62 posts] 4 years ago
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swelbo wrote:

haha..what a joke.

Is there a reason why every road they build can't have a cycle lane attached?

Is that what should happen now? I know that the new road into Weymouth built in time for the Olympics last year included cycle tracks. Should this be the case for all new road building?

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ScotchPoth (not verified) [368 posts] 4 years ago
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That will teach you for voting Tory,this vile scum are well funded and lobbied by all aspects of the motor industry
What did you expect from the corrupt dogs?
On the plus side the roads will be smoother to ride on but as this announcement is a propaganda re-hash of previous announcements and no new available money dont expect to see any developements in the next 20 years
Scum of the earth

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Edgeley [496 posts] 4 years ago
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The whole point was to announce big projects that won't start until after the next election, so that it sounds impressive but costs nothing at the moment. With the exception of the Boris E-W route, cycling schemes wouldn't be nearly wasteful enough to meet the criteria.

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swelbo [33 posts] 4 years ago
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CotterPin wrote:
swelbo wrote:

haha..what a joke.

Is there a reason why every road they build can't have a cycle lane attached?

Is that what should happen now? I know that the new road into Weymouth built in time for the Olympics last year included cycle tracks. Should this be the case for all new road building?

why not

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zanf [964 posts] 4 years ago
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swelbo wrote:
CotterPin wrote:
swelbo wrote:

haha..what a joke.

Is there a reason why every road they build can't have a cycle lane attached?

Is that what should happen now? I know that the new road into Weymouth built in time for the Olympics last year included cycle tracks. Should this be the case for all new road building?

why not

No, because its not a case of pursuing the same ideology with infrastructure design and just "tacking on" a cycle lane.

If we are seriously aiming for liveable cities where roads are not a serious danger to life and liberty, then how infrastructure is designed has to be approached with those ideals in mind.