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Cycle City Ambition cash could be wasted if planned road design rule changes not brought in now, say CTC and British Cycling

The UK’s two biggest cyclists' organisations, British Cycling and CTC, are urging the Department for Transport (DfT) to dispense with red tape and allow councils to introduce Dutch-style cycling infrastructure immediately – or else risk missing an opportunity to make roads safer for cyclists, due to local authorities facing a deadline over when they can spend Cycle City Ambition cash.

Yesterday, British Cycling announced that it had secured a commitment from the government to “cycle-proof” roads in England and Wales through drawing up new traffic regulations and design guidance, including the Highways Agency’s design standards. While those mainly apply to trunk roads, they are also widely followed in the design of local roads.

Contrary to some reports, British Cycling wasn’t acting alone. National cyclists’ organisation CTC was also involved in three days of discussions at its national office with DfT officials last week – you can read details here – and says it “wishes to see these changes implemented as soon as possible.”

Besides the general issue of the sooner some roads can be made safer for cyclists, the better, there’s a more pressing reason for CTC urging the government to make it easier for local authorities to take action now rather than wait until proposed changes to design standards have been through what is likely to be a lengthy consultation process.

That’s because the £77 million Cycle City Ambition cash announced by Prime Minister David Cameron on 12 August this year as part of what he termed a “cycling revolution” has to be spent by 2015. Eight cities in England mounted successful bids, the biggest winners being Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.

CTC fears that proposed changes may become mired in bureaucracy, meaning that by the time changes are approved that would enable councils such as Greater Manchester to put in place the Dutch-style infrastructure envisaged in their bids, it will be too late.

The implication is that either, with the deadline looming, councils would be forced to put in place infrastructure complying with existing standards – or worse, that some of the money set aside for cycling, and which will be boosted by match funding at local level, won’t be spent at all.

CTC’s campaigns director, Roger Geffen, told road.cc that the organisation “very much welcomes the Transport Secretary's commitment to implement changes to the cycle planning rule-book that we and other cycling groups have long called for.”

However, he added it was essential that local authorities be permitted to take action now, rather than wait until proposed amendments had been through a lengthy bureaucratic process.

“We now urge the Department to allow councils to make these changes in full at the earliest opportunity, and to allow councils to start trialling various Dutch solutions straight away,” he said.

“Supportive councils like Manchester do not want to have to wait for changes that might happen in 2015 subject to consultation, as their Government funding for cycling improvements runs out by then!

“The Prime Minister's promised 'cycling revolution' is long overdue, and the sooner we can get it underway, the better.”

In a press release issued yesterday morning, British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman also urged for the changes to take place as soon as possible.

“I’m pleased that we’re now seeing the government begin to implement the commitments made by the Prime Minister on 12 August,” he said.

“The scale of the task to make cycle proofing happen is significant however, that does not excuse the need to move fast on pushing through change.

“We cannot be waiting more than six months for these regulations to appear.

“The time to transform cycling in this country is – as the government has said – now.”

Boardman also repeated a call for targets to be introduced in order to gauge progress towards getting more Britons cycling, although in its response to the Get Britain Cycling report the government rejected the idea of setting specific goals.

"I still feel very strongly that if the government’s pledge to ‘make Britain a cycling nation to rival any of its European neighbours’ is to be realised, then there absolutely must be tangible targets to measure progress against and an on-going financial commitment, nothing less than is required in sport or business to ensure success,” he explained.

“These measures would not only show a real and permanent commitment to a wonderful mode of transport that answers so many of our countries problems, it would give local authorities the confidence to truly back the bicycle at a local level and put long term provision in place."

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.

18 comments

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Leodis [407 posts] 3 years ago
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Its always the same with politicians, the offer something knowing that they will never have to pay for it but take the credit at the time.

Cycling in the UK will never amount to anything more than what it currently is, there just isn't the political will or funding for anything to seriously happen.

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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What cycling revolution would that be? The one that appears to have £0 been made available to support it.

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farrell [1950 posts] 3 years ago
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I'd be much happier to support the DfT if they were strangling David Cameron.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 3 years ago
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The biggest problem in this country is as the article points out in so many words is the bureaucracy. Someone, a jobsworth, will say that we don't have relevant standards available for cycling highway design then implode with confusion.

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GREGJONES [295 posts] 3 years ago
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I doesn't matter what you do to oxford road so long as people park three abreast in Rusholme to talk to a mate, or just pop into the shops.

What we need isn't new infrastructure but better enforcement of existing rules.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 3 years ago
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David Cameron and his bunch of cronies are useless, he needs to get serious or shut the f*** up!  14

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teaboy [311 posts] 3 years ago
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GREGJONES wrote:

I doesn't matter what you do to oxford road so long as people park three abreast in Rusholme to talk to a mate, or just pop into the shops.

What we need isn't new infrastructure but better enforcement of existing rules.

It isn't an 'either-or' situation though. We need better infrastructure AND we need better enforcement of existing rules. With better infrastructure people parking 3 abreast wouldn't cause cyclists a problem anyway.

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Roger Geffen [57 posts] 3 years ago
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Northstar said:
"What cycling revolution would that be? The one that appears to have £0 been made available to support it."

***

Oooh, that's a bit harsh (well, OK, maybe only a little bit!)

The parliamentary Get Britain Cycling inquiry report (https://www.ctc.org.uk/news/get-britain-cycling-report-recommends-%C2%A3...), backed by CTC, BC, Sustrans et al, urged the Government to make a long-term annual spending commitment of at least £10 per person on cycling - rising to £20 as cycle use increases.

In response, the PM announced £10 per person, er, for 2 years and for just 1/10 of Britain's population.

So, are you a "glass 1/10th full" (short term) or a "glass 9/10ths empty" (long-term) person?!

In response, CTC welcomed the fact that the PM had implicitly endorsed the £10 per head figure - while urging him to extend it to the rest of the population for the long-term! We also encouraged MPs to do likewise:
https://www.ctc.org.uk/news/ctc-urges-mps-to-back-long-term-funding-for-...

The result? Around 100 MPs were present for the parliamentary debate on the "Get Britain Cycling" report, which concluded with an unopposed vote in favour of its recommendations:
https://www.ctc.org.uk/news/100-mps-reach-consensus-on-cycling.

As DfT starts to draft a cross-departmental Cycling Delivery Plan, we're now working very hard to secure the rest of the funding called for by 'Get Britain Cycling':
https://www.ctc.org.uk/blog/roger-geffen/ctc-in-3-day-talks-on-deliverin...

We've got a job of work on our hands though. And we'll doubtless need all the support that road.cc readers can offer!

Roger Geffen
CTC Campaigns & Policy Director

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Roger Geffen [57 posts] 3 years ago
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There's more info on the 'cycle-proofing' news story here:
https://www.ctc.org.uk/news/ctc-calls-for-swift-progress-mcloughlin-prom...

Roger Geffen
CTC Campaigns & Policy Director

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AndrewRH [57 posts] 3 years ago
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Roger, the £0 figure may be referring to the report out yesterday which showed that none (!) of the DfT / Local Transport Bodies in England have funded cycling projects...

See the Better Transport / Campaign for Rural England report here...

Buses and bikes pushed out of new local transport funding

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hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 3 years ago
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the problem with changing things (both infrastructure and enforcement) is the usual issue - a lack of cash due to ongoing cutbacks

when I talk to Police in London, they do not have the resources to properly enforce the roads:- whether tackling motorists, HGV or cyclists; occasionally they do a "blitz" because it get quick results and headlines in the media for a small cost

but there is a serious lack of ongoing enforcement

infrastructure changes also cost serious money. The cost to install a single pedestrian crossing, or to rebuild a street with a segregated cycle lane, is eye-wateringly high!

on a street I commute every day (Royal College Street, NW1) they decided to remove the old dual-lane segregated cycle lane and replaced it with a new "armadillo, plant pot and paint" scheme that has actually reduced cycle safety in terms of vehicles often parking across the cycle lane or just ignoring the cycle lane completely

officials openly admitted at a Camden Cycling event it was much cheaper to build the new scheme, than to rebuild with proper segregated solution.

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didds [42 posts] 3 years ago
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They can spend all they want on new infrastructures and enforcinf the existing rules... but until you can get into the minds of the great British unwashed that cycles are on a par with any other vehicle and that using a bicycle warrants as much care. consideration and rule following that we hope vehicle drivers display, then its a waste of money.

The cretins that moan about cyclists not paying road tax and that the splodge of green paint harbouring all the road detritus HAS to be used will just see "wasted money" and yet more opportunities to moan at cyclists not using the provision.

And if said provision mweans cyclists MUST use it rather than the perfectly adequate road... segregation is not an answer IMO.

didds

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AndrewRH [57 posts] 3 years ago
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Regarding the £10 per head spending figure mentioned by Roger...
The Minister for Transport and Veterans (Keith Brown) told the Scottish Parliament (in the debate where he refused to support strict liability -- see HERE):

Outside London, the spend per head of population in other parts of England is around £1.50 whereas in Scotland this year it is around £4.00 and will be around £6.00 next year—and that does not include the contributions from local authorities.

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Tony [122 posts] 3 years ago
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The problem with going ahead before the standards are rewritten is that most local authorities will continue in the established tradition of trying win a Cycle Facility of the Month Award rather than building something that might actually be useful.

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Tony [122 posts] 3 years ago
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hampstead_bandit wrote:

on a street I commute every day (Royal College Street, NW1) they decided to remove the old dual-lane segregated cycle lane and replaced it with a new "armadillo, plant pot and paint" scheme that has actually reduced cycle safety in terms of vehicles often parking across the cycle lane or just ignoring the cycle lane completely

officials openly admitted at a Camden Cycling event it was much cheaper to build the new scheme, than to rebuild with proper segregated solution.

But that is a scheme that is strongly supported by the local cycling campaign and replaced the previous facility, also strongly supported by the local cycling campaign, because Camden local authority found it had an abnormally high cyclist accident rate, particularly cyclists being hit on the cycle lane at the junctions. The wonderful new scheme protects cyclists with parked cars whose driver's and rear offside passenger doors open into ..... you've guessed it......the cycle lane.

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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So, are you a "glass 1/10th full" (short term) or a "glass 9/10ths empty" (long-term) person?!

Neither I'm a realist and the apparent ctc policy of right to the road is what has done damage to cycling in the uk.

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teaboy [311 posts] 3 years ago
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didds wrote:

They can spend all they want on new infrastructures and enforcinf the existing rules... but until you can get into the minds of the great British unwashed that cycles are on a par with any other vehicle and that using a bicycle warrants as much care. consideration and rule following that we hope vehicle drivers display, then its a waste of money.

The cretins that moan about cyclists not paying road tax and that the splodge of green paint harbouring all the road detritus HAS to be used will just see "wasted money" and yet more opportunities to moan at cyclists not using the provision.

And if said provision mweans cyclists MUST use it rather than the perfectly adequate road... segregation is not an answer IMO.

didds

As I said earlier, it isn't an either-or situation. Build high-quality infrastructure and cyclists will use it - not because they have to, but because it's better than riding on the road. Make changes to driver training and enforcement to ensure road-users understand the responsibility of driving better, and ensure bikeability is taught in every school.

It will take time and money, but with the right political will it can happen. Currently this is the most important missing factor, but for some reason I'm optimistic.

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hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 3 years ago
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@Tony

agree with your comments

the old "segregated" cycle lane was dual lane so running both northbound and southbound on the northbound side of Royal College Street (which is a one-way street)

from what I understand, most collisions between vehicles and cycles occured from motorists looking right to check for oncoming vehicle traffic on the road, completely ignoring cyclists coming south on the cycle lane. There were also incidents between cyclists travelling northbound and motorists failing to acknowledge the "hard stop" junction and just rolling across into the road.

the big problem with the new scheme is that the northbound cyclists still have this potential collision from motorists failing to stop, and have lost the protection of a hard, raised concrete strip to physically separate them from motor traffic going northbound alongside them.

the new scheme has painted strips on the northbound that are inconsistent along the length of the lane, rubber "armadillo" bumper and bizarre metal plant pots (approx 1.5M long) to try and create an "open" space that is still cycle friendly.

southbound is now on the right side of the road, and has a solid white line backed by car parking. Have already seen a number of collisions between southbound cyclists and motorists exiting vehicles into the cycle lane, especially couriers loaded with packages, or motorists turning without warning across the cycle lane into the bio-centre, vets college, Royal Mail, garage, etc.