“Derisory” and only “a wish list” – campaigners slam government’s cycling delivery plan

DfT publishes draft plan just hours before parliamentary debate on Get Britain Cycling report

Campaigners have described the government’s cycling delivery plan as “derisory” and little more than “a wish list,” saying that the targets it sets for cycling lack ambition and that a firm commitment to spending is needed.

The draft cycling delivery plan was published by the Department for Transport (DfT) his morning, just hours before MPs were due to debate progress being made towards implementing the recommendations of last year’s Get Britain Cycling report from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG).

That report called for initial minimum annual spend on cycling of £10 per person with the aim of increasing cycling’s modal share from 2 per cent of journeys to 10 per cent by 2025, and 25 per cent by 2050.

But campaigners have pointed out that the government’s plan, now open for “informal consultation” and published some 14 months after Prime Minister David Cameron promised a “cycling revolution,” fails to satisfy either of those recommendations.

The DfT says it aims to double the levels of trips made entirely or in part by bicycle in England by 2025. National cyclists’ charity CTC says, however, that the target “is even less ambitious than it appears.”

It adds: “Once the expected growth of cycle use in London and population increase are taken into account the increase in real terms would be less than three quarters (74 per cent), and falls far below the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ targets.”

On the issue of funding, the DfT claims that current spend is £5 a head a year - the APPCG has put the figure at £2 - but fails to commit to any increase in funding.

Instead, the DfT says that “The government’s aspiration is that – working with local government, and businesses – we can together explore how we can achieve a minimum funding equivalent to £10 per person each year by 2020 and 2021 – and sooner if possible.”

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: “This government is serious about making the UK a cycling nation. We have doubled funding since 2010, with £374 million committed between 2011 and 2015.

“We want cycling and walking to become the natural choices for shorter journeys, kick starting a cycling revolution that will remove barriers for a new generation of cyclists.

“This strategy provides a road map for the way forward.

“Local action to promote cycling is evident through schemes being run across the country and the delivery plan is a call to action, asking local authorities and local enterprise partnerships to do more,” he concluded.

CTC chief executive Paul Tuohy was scathing in his criticism of the government’s proposals.

“This is a derisory plan not a delivery plan,” he said. “The Prime Minister’s ‘cycling revolution’ with its Penny Farthing budget is going nowhere unless the Chancellor finds funding for cycling in his Autumn Statement.

“Cycling needs at least £10 a head if we are even to begin catching up with German, Dutch or Danish levels of cycle use.”

He went on: “If we can afford long term strategies for our roads and railways why not for cycling? It has such huge benefits to the economy and the environment, our waistlines and our wallets it would be foolish not to.

“With the Chancellor’s deadline to comment on what should be in his Autumn Statement tomorrow, I urge MPs and the public to voice their support today for CTC’s call for funding4cycling,” he concluded.

British Cycling said that it was disappointed that the plan “does not commit any significant funding to make these actions a reality.”

Chris Boardman, the governing body’s policy advisor, urged for a minimum of £10 per person per year to be spent on cycling, and highlighted research published today by British Cycling that claimed that such expenditure could save the NHS billions of pounds.

“The long-awaited cycling delivery plan is an unmissable opportunity for the government to put their money where their mouth is and truly give us the cycling revolution promised by David Cameron,” he said.

“We need to see an annual budget of at least £10 per head. If [Chancellor of the Exchequer] George Osborne isn’t convinced he just needs to look at British Cycling’s research paper which shows £17 billion savings for the NHS and a 25% increase in the mobility of our nation’s poorest families. This isn’t just about cycling, it’s about creating better places to live.”

Jason Torrance, policy director at the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, said that a firmer commitment needed to be made to levels of expenditure on : “Today’s aspiration to explore an investment of £10 per head for cycling is a welcome step in the right direction, but the most vital ingredients for cycling’s success are missing from the plan.

“Without any indication of where this money will come from and with targets that are too distant and lacking in ambition, today’s announcement is more of a wish list than a plan.

“Getting the population moving is a critical issue. Without a significant increase in the number of people cycling and walking their local journeys Britain will come to an economic standstill; overcome with congestion and the cost of the physical inactivity crisis.

He added: “Now is the time to transform Britain into a cycling and walking nation by building on today’s announcement to set ambitious targets and using the next budget to invest £10 per head in cycling through existing funding arrangements.”

Ian Austin MP, co-chair of the APPCG, opening the parliamentary debate in the House of Commons this afternoon said he was “disappointed” in the plan “for all sorts of reasons.”

Later, he described it as a "document," adding, "I don't think you can credibly call it a delivery plan."

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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