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Government 'hiding active travel funding report from Parliament', Cycling UK claims

Charity maintains report would show current funding insufficient to meet targets to grow cycling and walking

Cycling UK says that the government is suppressing the findings of research into active travel funding from scrutiny by Parliament, maintaining that the data shows that current levels of spend are insufficient to achieve its own targets for growth in cycling and walking.

The claim was made by the national cycling charity’s policy director, Roger Geffen, as he gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee’s inquiry, Reforming public transport after the pandemic.

He told the committee: “The government has sat on research over the last 14 months, and our understanding is that it shows £2 billion is only about a quarter to a third of what is needed to meet the government’s own targets to double cycling and increase walking by 2025.

“It’s really important the government is clear about what its targets are and that it publishes the research which shows whether the funding is adequate to hit their targets and then act on the findings of the [suppressed] research as it sets its budgets for cycling and walking in the Spending Review.”

In February last year, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced funding of £2 billion for cycling and walking over the following five years, with the figure subsequently confirmed in the government’s Gear Change strategy.

During 2020/21, however, only £250 million of that has been made available – £225 million for the emergency active travel fund, and £25 million for the Fix Your Bike voucher scheme – and following last week’s Budget, Cycling UK pointed out that only £257 million has been allocated for 2021/22.

> Cycling UK accuses government of “airbrushing out” cycling’s post-pandemic role

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted to the parliamentary committee last month that £2 billion was adequate to meet the targets of doubling cycling trips in England, as well as growing levels of walking, contained in the 2017 Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.

However, Geffen told the committee today that the report, which was commissioned by the Department for Transport, shows that the government is aware that £2 billion is insufficient for it to meet its targets, and that it should invest between £6 billion and £8 billion on active travel over the next four years.

 “It is very disappointing that spending next year will be actually less on cycling and walking as things stand than what it was last year”, he told MPs.

“We’re going in the wrong direction rather than boosting local authorities’ capacity to scale up their abilities to spend at the levels we need to be spending if we’re going to meet the government’s targets.”

Following today’s session, he added: “The government has deliberately hidden evidence from Parliament by claiming that £2 billion would allow them to ‘make strong progress’ against their targets to encourage more cycling and walking. They need to publish the suppressed report and act on its findings as a matter of urgency.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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muhasib | 3 years ago
1 like

They don't even offer the cycle to work scheme to all civil servants yet - looking at you Ministry of Defence.

HarrogateSpa | 3 years ago

Woeful underfunding...seems like deja vu all over again.

hawkinspeter | 3 years ago

Sounds like someone's pulling the government's strings over this - they know the return on investment in cycling is much higher than any other transport investment and they have all the figures available on the health benefits of active transport. I can't think of any other sensible reason why they wouldn't want to increase active transport.

eburtthebike replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago

Or they just don't want to upset the drivers.  The overwhelming case for cycling has been known for decades, but despite lots of promises, nothing much happens.  Anyway, they're spending all the money on more roads and electric car charging networks, because, well, they like cars.

I wonder if this will be picked up by the msm?

hawkinspeter replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago

If they don't want to upset the drivers (which they obviously don't) then why announce their intention to fund active travel in the first place?

I can relate more to the stinginess of payrises to frontline NHS staff - not that I approve at all, but I can understand the motivation to save money and that they'd need to find the money from somewhere. With active travel though, surely it'd be simple to just move money from one area to another e.g. ensure that 1% of the roads budget is dedicated towards enhancing active travel.

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