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Cycling UK says HS2 is “penny pinching” on costs of tunnels and bridges

Campaigners say that communities will be split and public funding wasted if HS2 Ltd fails to cater for pedestrians and cyclists on bridges and tunnels crossing the railway. HS2 Ltd said there was not enough money to cycle proof the first phase of the £56bn project and there are fears the same explanation will be given for the next phase.

The term ‘cycle proofing’ is used to describe the principle of ensuring that cycle-friendly provision is designed-in from the outset when planning or altering highways.

In 2014 the Government said that HS2 Ltd would discuss how to provide cycle friendly conditions in HS2-related highway works with its own advisory body, the Cycle Proofing Working Group (CPWG).

In 2017 those discussions involved the former telling the latter that it had no money to cycle proof any Phase 1 works.

Cycling UK have now received an assurance from HS2 Ltd offering only to “have due regard to the principles of the relevant up-to-date cycling standards and guidance” for phase 2a.

Speaking to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill Select Committee, the charity said HS2 Ltd was reneging on its commitments.

Policy Director Roger Geffen said: “Offering vaguely to think about something HS2 Ltd should be doing anyway is pretty pathetic. If the Welsh Government and Transport for London can adopt good design standards, why can’t HS2 Ltd?”

Founder and former CEO of Sustrans, John Grimshaw, gave the example of Yarnfield Lane near Stone in Staffordshire where HS2’s current bridge design would exclude cycling despite there being an established route in place already. The new bridge would make it impossible for secondary school children and other locals to cycle safely between Yarnfield and Stone.

Following his committee appearance, Geffen said: “Cycling UK believes HS2 Ltd is reneging on the Government’s own commitments to cycle safety.  HS2 Ltd could be a model of best practice for cycle proofing. However, employing sub-standard cycle provision and penny pinching on the costs of tunnels and bridges means they’re on the opposite course.

“Cycling UK wants HS2 Ltd to adopt the excellent cycle design standards already in use in London and Wales, and we hope Ministers will support this.”

Before the meeting, Phil Jones of transport consultants PJA and a CPWG member, told the Guardian: “HS2 have treated the CPWG with contempt. They were supposed to engage with us, but the only engagement was turning up to two meetings, and making some vague statements with no further commitment to do anything.

“They made it clear they had no money [for cycling]. They said we could scrutinise their designs [for crossings] but didn’t provide them. This is the government’s advisory body; that’s what it’s there for.”

He added: “We are spending billions on HS2, and all it’s going to take to cycle proof it is crumbs. What the people along the West Midlands to Crewe corridor needs is for HS2 Ltd to deliver on the assurances it has already given.”

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