Cyclists outside London are receiving as little as £1.50 a head in infrastructure spending, Labour has alleged, as a row rumbles on about low funding for two wheeled transport.
On Friday we reported how the Government said it will continue to support sustainable transport with a new £580m ‘Access’ fund for England which will run until 2019-20. However, the funding equates to little less than £3 per person per year – far below the £10 per person per year level the Prime Minister said he would be aiming for. -
But Shadow transport minister Daniel Zeichner told MPs that cycling "took a big hit" in the recent spending review, leaving little to spend in next year’s cycling and walking investment strategy.
Clare Perry, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, told the Commons that this was untrue, and that “the Government continue to encourage more cycling and walking across England.
“We did good work under the last Conservative Government: spending per head rose from £2 in 2010 to £6 now and more than £10 in the cycling ambition cities. On the long-term vision, we have made it clear that we want to make the UK a cycling nation.”
When challenged by Labour MP Ruth Cadbury about the figures, Ms Perry answered: “our view, and hers I think, the investment should be targeted, which is why the cycling ambition cities get more than £10 per head. Her analysis does not include our commitment that every mile of new road built by Highways England must be cycle-proof.”
In April, Prime Minister David Cameron said that the Conservative Party was aiming to increase funding for cycling to £10 per person per year, aiming to double levels of cycling by 2025. While the government is keen to point out that spend per head is currently over £10 in the eight Cycle City Ambition cities and in London, elsewhere it is far below.
Spanning the period from when the Department for Transport (DfT) publishes the long-awaited Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy in spring until 2019-20, the Access Fund works out at £145m per year, so less than £3 per head based on England's population of 53 million at the 2011 Census.
In July it was announced work had commenced on the Cycling and Walking Strategy, which was hailed as an "historic moment". At an event in Newcastle cycling minister, Robert Goodwill, said: "We want everyone to be able to see what we are doing for cyclists and judge for themselves whether it’s working.
"Which is why towards the end of the last parliament we passed a law saying that the Department for Transport will publish a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.
"I have instructed my officials to begin work to commence the relevant section of the Infrastructure Act."
The CTC's Sam Jones said: "What we would like to see is that the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy has teeth, with proper funding of at least £10 per head. There is real concern when all you see is cuts, cuts, cuts from George Osborne."
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.