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Official statement ignores some issues, puts responsibility for others onto local authorities

No commitment to minimum annual spending levels, no national cycling champion, no long-term targets and no central, top level leadership – those are the disappointing key messages from the government’s response, published today, to the Get Britain Cycling report.

The report, published in April following a six-week inquiry hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APCG), is due to be debated in the House of Commons on 2 September, the day after Parliament returns from recess.

Organisations such as CTC and British Cycling are urging people to write to their MPs to ask them to attend the debate, but today’s response from the Department for Transport, covering England outside London, will raise concerns over how much of the report’s recommendations may end up being adopted.

From the first of the 16 points set out in the Get Britain Cycling report to the last, the government’s response [attached at the end of this article] will make largely depressing reading for those who are fighting for better conditions for existing cyclists, and to encourage more people to switch to two wheels.

The first recommendation of the Get Britain Cycling Report, that the government commit spend equivalent to £10 per head a year to cycling, ultimately increasing to £20, isn’t answered at all; instead, we’re told about investment that has been made, such as the recently announced Cycle City Ambition funds, which only apply to a handful of successful bidding cities, and not at all to towns or rural areas.

While that funding may help kick-start progress towards achieving ambitious long-term cycling goals in cities such as Manchester and Birmingham, it’s also a one-off injection of central government cash, and therefore even in those areas that benefit from it, cannot be considered as being “in excess of £10 per head per year” as the government today claims it to be.

Another key recommendation of the Get Britain Cycling Report is that national cycling targets be set “to increase cycle use from less than 2% of journeys in 2011, to 10% of all journeys in 2025, and 25% by 2050.”

As with so many of the other recommendations, for instance that 20mph speed limits be extended in towns, and consideration be given to 40mph limits on some rural lanes, in its response on cycling targets, the government says such matters are for local authorities to decide, taking local conditions into account.

Likewise, on the subject of a national cycling champion being appointed – Chris Boardman seemed to be a well-thought-of and popular choice within the cycling community to take on such a role – the government, which abolished Cycling England soon after taking office in 2010, says there are no plans to do so.

Unveiling the government’s response today, minister for cycling, Norman Baker, said: The coalition government takes cycling very seriously and we are committed to leading the country in getting more people cycling, more safely, more often.

“Many of the recommendations put forward by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group mirror those that we are already taking forward so we are ahead on some of the challenges which have been set for us.

“However we are keen to go further and faster. The £94 million announced by the Prime Minister earlier this month is an excellent boost and will help to encourage even more people to take to 2 wheels.”

Many will feel that the Get Britain Cycling report, which was compiled following evidence from a host of experts from within the cycling world and outside, presented the perfect opportunity to go “further and faster,” and that in its response, the government has failed to do just that.

Part of the problem of course is that following years of underinvestment in cycling and its absence in overall transport strategy means that we are starting from a very low base, and it is unlikely that changes on the scale of those contemplated by the Get Britain Cycling report would happen overnight.

Nevertheless, the apparent lack of commitment from central government running through its response is particularly disappointing.

Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director at national cyclists’ organisation, CTC, said: “The Government has made welcome progress in the past 18 months on boosting the funding and priority for cycling, yet there is an awful lot more still to be done. 

“We urge political leaders of all parties to support MPs’ calls for sustained funding for cycling of at least £10 per person annually, and to ensure high standards of cycle-friendliness are designed into all new road and traffic schemes.”

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.

16 comments

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mrmo [2076 posts] 2 years ago
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Passing the buck to local councils is not going to work. There needs to be a NATIONAL framework. Do we expect councils to build and fund there own roads with no consideration to the world outside there borough?

Not surprised though, how many people have tried to catch a bus between towns across a county boundary? In my experience it all falls apart very quickly.

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Simon_MacMichael [2450 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

Not surprised though, how many people have tried to catch a bus between towns across a county boundary? In my experience it all falls apart very quickly.

Nail on head.

I can see Stow-on-the-Wold perched on its hill from outside my front door; it's in Gloucestershire, I'm in Oxfordshire. I think there is one bus a week, but it turns round immediately.

I don't drive (legacy of growing up in London). Alternatives are to cycle, not always practicable given I just have the road bike, a £20 each way cab trip, or bus-train-bus which takes hours and also limits you to timetables coming home.

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jollygoodvelo [1420 posts] 2 years ago
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Pathetic. I'm not one to base my whole political allegiances on one issue, but you have to think that a party who seriously looked at this could get a lot of benefit from it.

Spin doctors are always looking for ways that their parties can be seen to "take a lead" on something - you might have noticed how the UK Motorsport industry has had a lot of coverage recently with McLaren in Woking and the Oxfordshire-based teams getting lots of publicity. Well, the UK has a thriving industry of bike shops, clubs, teams, fabricators, cafés etc... and the fabricators and frame makers etc are proper engineering of the sort that we all say Britain doesn't do any more.

Surely that's an industry that, given proper respect (not just a few fat men wobbling around on bikes that they've been given for a photo-op), people would start to support the party for being behind traditional British industry?

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cisgil23 [55 posts] 2 years ago
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The next election is in May 2015. It seems a long way off, but it will come round.
But then, what is Labour's policy on this ?
If the Liberals ended up in a coalition with the Socialists, I suppose they would just do their nodding dog act, as they do now. Do they have a policy of their own on cycling ? Do they have any policies of their own ?
I feel I'm going round in circles. That's ok in a velodrome, but not in everyday life.
Ho-humm ! I'm depressed.  2

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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What Socialists?

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nowasps [426 posts] 2 years ago
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I think I'd have a more respect for them if they could just be honest about it: "We have no interest in cycling whatsoever. There are no votes in it. Sod off."

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 2 years ago
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"Yes Johnny Cyclist, we do think cycling is very important. Here's some pocket money to tide you over until next year. Now don't go spending it all at once!", the minister laughs.

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zanf [836 posts] 2 years ago
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Did anyone really expect a different response from this government?

Its taken Boris Johnson 5 years of people piling on him about going Dutch for him to pay it the minimal amount of lip service he needed to get them off his back. Its going to take a bit more than the APCG to get them to change their tact.

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horizontal dropout [270 posts] 2 years ago
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"Do they have a policy of their own on cycling ? "

A rather nice proposal at least - 1.2billion per year

http://road.cc/content/news/90562-liberal-democrats-propose-%C2%A312-bil...

Also covered in the daily mail with predictable commentary.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2396818/The-1-2bn-Lib-Dem-fund-B...

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CotterPin [63 posts] 2 years ago
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cat1commuter wrote:

"Yes Johnny Cyclist, we do think cycling is very important. Here's some pocket money to tide you over until next year. Now don't go spending it all at once!", the minister laughs.

Isn't that Eric Pickles' attitude? (http://road.cc/content/news/90909-branson-vs-pickles-%E2%80%93-virgin-bo...) Grown-ups drive cars and help the local economy. Cyclists are an irrelevancy in his world view.

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 2 years ago
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I wish the CTC would bow out of this kind of thing. Their failed "share the road" dogma should be frankly embarrassing by now, but still they cling to it. They still don't have a proper policy on segregation, AFAIK. They should go back to being a club for touring cyclists.

Alternative DFT has done an incredible piece pointing out how the CTC will even ensure that "the camera always lies", through careful cropping out of some good segregated infrastructure, in a picture of kids riding to school, where that infrastructure is essential to them being able to ride.

They are in deep, deep denial.

http://departmentfortransport.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/cycling-to-school...

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 2 years ago
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(That comes from a committed cyclist and rider of bikes, who was a CTC member for 6 years before becoming disillusioned with them, by the way. I now have BC membership, mainly for the 3rd party insurance).

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GerardR [123 posts] 2 years ago
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The response to "Get Cycling" sounds suspiciously like "Get stuffed".

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cavasta [216 posts] 2 years ago
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The Rumpo Kid wrote:

What Socialists?

Damn good question.

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mr_leemur [35 posts] 2 years ago
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From that Daily Mail article

Quote:

Funding the cycling policy would mean slashing the total number of Army personnel in half.

Apparently it can only e funded in one way.

I really should stop looking at any links to their articles!

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 2 years ago
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How did CTC respond to this same news?

"
Vive la révolution!

CTC has welcomed the Coalition’s response, announced this week by Local Transport and Cycling Minister Norman Baker, to the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report. Included in the response is a proposed review of sentencing guidelines for certain driving offences, called for by CTC’s Road Justice campaign"

from ctc cycleclips.