Chris Boardman says transport secretary Patrick McLaughlin is an embarrassment to David Cameron by failing to deliver the “cycling revolution” promised by the prime minister nearly 18 months ago.
Boardman, the former world and Olympic champion, who is now policy advisor to British Cycling, was reacting to the government’s response to a consultation on its cycling and walking plan, published today, in which the Department for Transport outlines the government’s position as well as its proposed ‘next steps.’
The former world and Olympic champion was highly critical of the comparatively low level of spending on cycling as well as what he sees as a lack of urgency in improving conditions for people on bikes.
“After the triumphs of London 2012, the Prime Minister promised a ‘cycling revolution’ and, even though today’s announcement has been almost two years in the making, we are still waiting for his government to produce a clear strategy on cycling,” he said.
“The Department for Transport’s own figures show that they’ve spent a pitiful £2.20 per head per year on cycling over the last five years – this is 10 times less than is being spent in popular cycling countries abroad.
“The mountains of evidence assembled by their own people showing that more cycling would have an immeasurable impact on the country is effectively being filed at the back of a cupboard gathering dust.
“We’re just days away from the election period and the timing of this response says it all. The Transport Secretary has embarrassed David Cameron by failing to deliver on the Prime Minister’s promise to make cycling an accessible and attraction option.”
Referring to the duties imposed by the recent Infrastructure Act, he added: “The next government now has a legal obligation to produce an investment strategy for cycling. It is crucial that the thousands of responses received by the department – plus the letter that big businesses have sent to party leaders – are listened to and that swift action is taken to implement our recommendations.”
The Dft said that “the issue of funding for cycling and walking was by far the most common matter to be raised in feedback to the consultation,” with its response also addressing areas such as local authority partnership projects, cycle-proofing, national design standards and Bikeability.
Transport minister Robert Goodwill, who has responsibility for cycling, said: “The government response sets out our position on each of these matters and most notably, makes clear our commitment to cycling and walking in the long-term by placing a duty in the recently passed Infrastructure Act 2015 requiring government to produce a cycling and walking investment strategy.
“The new duty requires us to put in place a strategy for England, which, amongst other things, must set out the financial resources which government will make available towards meeting our cycling and walking objectives. This move has been warmly welcomed by our stakeholders.
“Government is now considering how best to develop a long-term infrastructure programme for cycling and walking, drawing upon expert advice from cycling and walking stakeholders including the Active Travel Consortium.
He added: “It is also important to note that through the duties confirmed in the Infrastructure Act 2015, government will be held to account by Parliament.”
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.