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Bikelash! PM urged to act as fears grow that golden age of cycling could fall victim to govt delay and anti-cycling sentiment

Campaigners say “vocal minority” opposing change as linchpin of Government's cycling strategy is in the administrative slow lane.....

Campaigners have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson with concerns Active Travel England, the linchpin of the Government’s "golden age of cycling", may take a year to launch, and 18 months to get up to speed.

The letter from #BikeisBest, a coalition of more than 50 cycle brands and organisations, says while the government’s Transport Accelerator for large infrastructure projects  will launch as soon as next month, there is no clear timescale for Active Travel England to begin its work.

Without Active Travel England new design guidance for cycling and walking infrastructure can’t be enforced, councils without active travel expertise won’t have the support they need to plan and deliver routes, and new major infrastructure schemes could be designed without active travel elements at all.

However, sources argue the Department for Transport is trying to ensure the new public body is robust enough to avoid the same fate as Cycling England, the former cycling delivery body disbanded in Philip Hammond’s 2010 "bonfire of the quangos".

The #BikeisBest letter, titled "safeguarding the golden age of cycling", says swifter action by government, and a clear timetable, are needed to prevent a "post-code lottery" of safe cycling and walking infrastructure, and help councils withstand outcry over road space reallocation by a "vocal minority" opposing change.

The letter reads: “There are worrying signs that access to the kind of high quality cycling infrastructure that will enable mode shift could come down to a postcode lottery. Even where local authorities have received all the funding they asked for, delivery of schemes by some councils have been shelved because of local pressure from a vocal minority. This is a worrying trend that transcends geography or party politics.”

East Sussex and Brighton are the latest councils to roll back on new temporary cycle lanes, intended to provide safe alternatives to driving, as traffic levels increase following lockdown. Elsewhere vigilantes have sabotaged low traffic neighbourhoods in London.

#BikeisBest argues in the meantime a “centralised professional training scheme for active travel could be offered and promoted by the DfT” to equip local councils with the skills to deliver decent cycling and walking routes – as well as issuing reminders councils have been “mandated by government… to enable cycling and walking”.

Sources in talks with the Department for Transport and those involved with the former Cycling England, say ensuring Active Travel England meets the necessary standards and has the relevant powers could take between six months and a year with the less than 20 staff currently allocated to active travel – and reaching full steam, with the necessary staff and resources, could take 18 months.

One source said: “It does need to be set up properly because the worst thing would be to set up a group and not give it teeth or a sense it’s around to stay, to do the job properly, that it could lose its budget or be cut by the next government.”

Some argue with political will it could happen sooner. Until it is set up, Cycling UK’s Roger Geffen points out government will remain on track to reach only 40% of the way to its target to double cycling, with funding currently a quarter of what’s needed to deliver that growth. There are questions over whether councils even have the capacity to spend the £2bn allocated to cycling, currently. The level of resources Active Travel England will have for its huge task of negotiating with councils, politicians and planners up and down the country to deliver a cycling boom, is also unclear.

Phillip Darnton, former Chairman of Cycling England, said: “The besetting evil of all things cycling has been the stop-start, short-term nature of things. The destruction of Cycling England was the destruction of ability of councils to produce cycling programmes, and that lack of continuity has hampered cycling ever since.

“However keen and eager we are, in my view if it’s to be done properly it’ll take the rest of the year,” to set up Active Travel England, and “at least a year for [the equivalent of] a cycling demonstration town to start doing anything”, said Darnton.

The Department for Transport said it is in the early stages of developing Active Travel England “in line with the usual government approvals process for the creation of a public body”.


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Cargobike | 3 years ago

Fantastic eh?

Block posters who's views you don't agree with until the forum becomes a vacuum of happy clappers. While I don't agree with everything that certain people post on here, or the articles that the site editors choose to highlight, it's a slippery slope when only one side of an opinion can be taken as correct.

I'm quite willing to put my head above the parapet and have a differing opinion at times and can understand that certain posters are borderline trolling or seeking to gain attention, but the reality is that it is they who have won if you modify your actions to negate them from the conversation.

Perhaps both sides of the arguments need to look at themselves first and possibly grow up a bit?

hawkinspeter replied to Cargobike | 3 years ago

It's not to do with agreeing or not. There's plenty of differing opinions on here and it can be fun wrangling out the finer points of roadcraft on NMOTD videos.

What I object to is the deliberate misrepresentation of facts (e.g. Highway Code diagrams), constant victim blaming and the glorification of violence against cyclists. It just seems like a constant desire to disrupt sensible debate rather than promote it.

Hirsute replied to Cargobike | 3 years ago

When you say grow up, how does that work in other contexts? If you are in town and you hear a street preacher, do you force yourself to listen?
If you are in the pub and someone is holding forth, do you sit there and bear it or do you move elsewhere?
There is a big difference between having a different opinion and purporting to have an opinion in order to bait people. You only have to look at the recent reading ebike theft item to see that.
I'd say reacting to baiting is what wins it for them. Just as I'd modify my behaviour when uncle Ted is spouting his usual bollocks, so I modify my behaviour on forums when faced with the same.

Captain Badger | 3 years ago

The "Golden age of cycling" was the same as other tory hand waving soundbites. it never existed as anything more than vibrations in the air. Remember "the Big Society"?

It's just prevarication that distracts from and obfuscates the actual planning, funding and implementation of concrete solutions to real problems. 

brooksby | 3 years ago


...could fall victim...


Fursty Ferret | 3 years ago

It's not surprising. Investing in decent cycling infrastructure infuriates the Conservative Party's core voter: the late-middle-aged gammony overweight Daily-Express-reading person who uses their car for everything. The same people who see speed cameras as "stealth taxes" and object to "lycra louts" slowing them down as they drive the mile and a half to and from the newsagent / school / hairdresser.

I think the only realistic way to get proper investment and satisfy the core voters would likely be a law change forcing cyclists to use bike lanes if provided, which I personally think would be a step backwards (forced onto the shared used pavement path at every opportunity).

TheBillder replied to Fursty Ferret | 3 years ago

Hands up if you think that compulsion would happen in conjunction with proper standards for path design, construction, maintenance and cleaning.

eburtthebike replied to TheBillder | 3 years ago

TheBillder wrote:

Hands up if you think that compulsion would happen in conjunction with proper standards for path design, construction, maintenance and cleaning.

Of course it would.

brooksby replied to Fursty Ferret | 3 years ago

Fursty Ferret wrote:

The same people who see speed cameras as "stealth taxes" and object to "lycra louts" slowing them down as they drive the mile and a half to and from the newsagent / school / hairdresser.

Bristol Post today has a headlined article about how 

"Bristol is among the UK’s top ten penalty hotspots for issuing bus lane fines, according to new research.

The council collected more than £1.82million in bus lane fines and issued just over 64,000 penalty notices to motorists caught driving in a bus lane in 2018/19, according to information released under the Freedom of Information Act."

And guess what - they're not using this opportunity to point out how badly behaved Bristolian motorists clearly are...

David9694 replied to Fursty Ferret | 3 years ago

There would be a fair few takers out there in Daily Express Land for several  "cyclists should be made to..." - I wouldn't go there IIWY, these are not people who are going to give anything back for your pains.

thinking back to when speed cameras first came in, I recall the debate that Said they had to be overt and dare I say hi viz, and while policing comprises both the overt and the not-so, it was otherwise going to be boo-hoo, "police 'lie in wait' for speeding motorists", etc., or put another way "police turn up at place where criminal activity occurs".

The entitlement - not to be caught - is long-standing. 


lio replied to David9694 | 3 years ago
1 like

"police 'lie in wait' for speeding motorists"

Got to wonder why the police don't just say "Yes. We lie in wait for speeding drivers."

David9694 replied to lio | 3 years ago
1 like

anything other than "it's a fair cop, guv"

"Britain's top 10 most lucrative speed cameras."

"they've only closed the [Sandbanks] car park so people end up parking illegally and they can get the fines." (Or some such) 

myriad threats and insults against Cyclingmikey when he bags another mobile phone driver

Hirsute | 3 years ago

I've already seen calming measures removed and temporary 20s removed which is not surprising given ECC only got around 50% allocation of their bid for funds.

I noticed a major road that leads to several schools had been resurfaced - great ! Then I realised that they had simply put the paint back on the new surface. No attempt at all to provide a safer (semi) protected cycle lane that might encourage pupils to cycle and no wonder that they only achieved 50%.

Richard D | 3 years ago

The "golden age of cycling" lasted about ten weeks.  Then it was car-nage as usual round here  2

ktache replied to Richard D | 3 years ago

I'm kind of excited to see what level of carmageddon that the schools going back will bring.  It's been a while.

Electic vehicles will do nothing to reduce congestion.  There will be at least a decade of ICE cars being held up by the electrics even if no more were ever sold.  And don't forget all of the diesel vans and trucks stuck in the ever more crowded roads.

eburtthebike | 3 years ago

Well, I hope this organisation will work and actually achieve something, but the government record of such bodies is not good e.g. The English Regions Cycling Development Team.  Their guy for the South West, who's name escapes me, talked only to local authorities and decided that they were doing a wonderful job; that's right, he didn't talk to any cyclists.  A bit like asking a shop manager how he's doing without talking to the customers.

They vanished without trace after achieving almost nothing.

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