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Labour commits additional £89m to cycling and walking in run up to the General Election

Five year pledge leaves party lagging behind the Lib Dems and Green Party

Labour has announced a further £89m funding for cycling and walking in an announcement today, or around 33p per head per year over five years, as well as £300m to fix Britain's potholes.

While Labour claims the money, to be reallocated from the existing transport budget, goes further than the Conservatives and Lib Dems, the latter's £10 per head per year commitment would amount to a significantly higher annual spend of £530m.

Arguably as important, however, is the party's reiteration of its plan, announced in March, to create a "high-level and cross-governmental Cyclist and Pedestrians' Advisory Board", which it says will put those on foot and bikes "at the top table of transport policy for the first time."

CTC's Sam Jones said: "Though this reminder was announced before the election campaign began, in many ways it is much more interesting than the funding announcement of £89m spread over five years. Campaigners have long argued that cycling is not purely a transport issue and requires cross-departmental buy-in and support to ensure its long term growth. Such a board is very much a step in the right direction for the future of cycling in the UK."

Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary, Michael Dugher, said: "David Cameron and Nick Clegg have failed to deliver on their promises on cycling and walking.

"Labour has a better long-term plan and will go further than the Tories and the Lib Dems by investing an additional £89 million in local active travel projects and infrastructure schemes. This extra spending, which is fully funded, will help enable more people to cycle and move cycling and walking from the margins to the mainstream – where it belongs."

Labour plans to spend the money over five years in a new "active travel fund" for local cycling and walking projects and infrastructure.

The proposed Cyclists and Pedestrians' Advisory Board will be chaired by the Secretary of State, and will "include ministers from across Whitehall, senior civil servants from the Department for Transport, cycling and pedestrian representatives."

This, Labour says, "will help facilitate the quick publication of a long-term walking and cycling strategy in the next parliament by the summer of 2016.

An announcement from Labour has been anticipated for the last week, though it doesn't go as far as some might hope.

Boardman sat on the national cycling strategy board towards the end of his pro career. In a 2013 interview he said: "I resigned when it got to the point that I realised government action was to set up an advisory board and that was it. That was the action! It wasn't given any teeth and the advice wasn't listened to."

According to the CTC, the recent Conservative announcement for £200m of cycling funding was a re-announcement of existing funding. Labour's £89 million appears to be in addition to the coalition government's existing commitment to cycling. That ongoing funding incudes money from Highways England to "cycle proof" the UK's major roads, and Cycle City Ambition Fund money for eight UK cities and four national parks.

Richard Burden MP, Labour's Shadow Roads Minister, clarified this was not Labour's answer to the Cycling and Walking investment strategy, required by law in the next parliament, though details of this haven't been announced yet.

CTC's Sam Jones welcomed Labour's recognition of active travel, and said it would be "great news for the rest of the country" if Labour introduced an Active Travel Act, as they did in Wales, which requires ongoing planning and spending on cycle networks.

As it stands, 20% of Labour councillors have responded to CTC's Vote Bike campaign, committing to five specific promises, including £10 per head per year spending on cycling. The Lib Dems and Greens currently have the highest percentage of councillors signed up, with Labour in the middle, while the Conservatives trail behind UKIP, with 6% and 7% respectively.

Jones said: "For a party that has professed championing cycling we would hope that there would be a higher turnout than 20%."

Labour was contacted to clarify their comparison with Lib Dem spending but have not yet responded.

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