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'Revolutionary' Gov. cycling plans “unambitious” say parliamentary cycling group

The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group have joined the growing list of critics to Government plans to start “cycling revolution.”

The government's cross-party cycling advocacy group the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Campaign (APPCG) have added their 8-part recommendation to the growing list of criticisms to the Government's Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS).

Their list of recommendations, which we cover below, includes criticisms that the government's target to double cycling by 2025 is "unambitious," and that the government should be moving to ensure a minimum investment in cycling of £10 per person rising to £20.

The report also calls for improvements to cycling infrastructure, the deregulation of street designs, and high levels of monitoring both locally and nationally that progress is being made; alongside a clear direction that cycling is a national priority.

The CWIS is the government's delivery on the Prime Minister's 2013 comments that suggested he wanted to start a "cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists."

> Prime Minister announces £94m of funding for cycling projects (2013)

While the APPCG appears to criticise large portions of the CWIS, its report states that they "welcome the Government's recognition that substantial increases in cycling would provide solutions to a wide range of pressing policy issues."

With that said, Ruth Cadbury, Brentford and Isleworth MP and Co-Chair of the APPCG said that "the Prime Minister has to take the lead and follow through on his pledge to create a cycling revolution."

The 8-point recommendation list is as follows:

  • Strong ambition to see a "cycling revolution"
  • Greater investment in cycling
  • Clear direction that cycling is a national priority
  • Robust measures to gauge progress nationally and locally
  • Improving quality of cycle infrastructure design
  • Deregulation of street design
  • An updated Highway Code
  • Action to improve enforcement of traffic laws

Since the announcement of the CWIS the plans have been widely criticised. Most of that criticism came from businesses and campaigners during the evidence session last month.

Celebrities like Chris Boardman have also weighed in on the matter. He said that the CWIS isn't "worth the paper it's written on" without adequate funding.

> Boardman: Government's cycling strategy “not worth the paper it’s written on”

While funding is where the initial criticisms of the CWIS laid, the APPCG pick up the baton by questioning the government's resolve and commitment to this "cycling revolution."

In their first recommendation the APPCG note that doubling the present proportion of 2% of journeys made by bike is "unambitious," and that we should be looking towards the Dutch 27% as a benchmark. They also claim that the government should be looking to adopt a national target of an 8% increase in bicycle journeys to 10% of all trips by 2025; with the aim of matching our European neighbours in the long term.

Following that call to arms, the group focuses on funding. Interestingly the APPCG are not only looking at the amount of money being invested in cycling, but also its distribution.

The report says that most of the goverment's insufficient £6 per person investment in cycling currently goes to London and a few Cycle City Ambition Grant cities - Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle, Norwich, Cambridge, and Oxford.

Co-Chair Ms. Cadbury highlighted the idea that a more equal spread of investment needs to be seen.

She said:  "We can achieve similar levels of cycling to our European neighbours, if there is the political will up and down the country to do this. There are good examples of better conditions for cycling around the country, but it must not be a postcode lottery."

The recommendations suggest that the government should be investing £10 per person minimum, rising to £20 in the future.

The report goes on to state the government needs to ensure that cycling is central to community development and economic growth and that monitoring the implementation of that development strategy closely is of the utmost importance. 

Infrastructure, and the deregulation of street design is also highlighted in the report. The APPCG say that good practice changes in infrastructure design should be more widely disseminated by the government, alongside endorsing national design standards to avoid councils making similar mistakes up and down the country.

> Hampshire council review "collision-course" bike lane
> Sustrans criticises "incredibly dangerous" Weston-Super-Mare bike lane 

Conversely, the APPCG have also called for the government to deregulate street design. They claim that the government's moves to allow for more innovative street design are welcomed, more needs to be done to simplify many aspects of street design, including the layout of pedestrian and cycle crossings.

Given the release this week of the AA's Chris Boardman-approved take on the Highway Code - and especially the criticisms for patronising cyclists it received - the APPCG's call to update the Highway Code is an interesting one.

> Carlton Reid defends AA's Cyclist's Highway Code

They say that the Highway Code should give clearer priority to pedestrians and cyclists, particularly where cycle infrastructure meets side roads.

Finally, the recommendation calls for the government to make good on its promise to review the road traffic laws and to address dangerous and inconsiderate road user behaviour.

Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham and Co-Chair of the APPCG alongside Ms Cadbury, said "It is high time we kick-started a true cycling revolution, one that reaches beyond the lycra brigade and benefits all parts of society – particularly women and children."

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