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MP stresses need for "consistent" cycling funding after "disappointing" cut to active travel budget

"The debate around active travel can be polarising. In reality, I don't think it's controversial at all," MP Ruth Cadbury told the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling & Walking's annual showcase event...

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling and Walking's 2023 showcase event today heard from MPs committed to championing active travel, with calls made for "consistent" funding following last month's budget cuts.

The cross-party group (APPGCW) of MPs and Lords works to promote active travel in Parliament, and is co-chaired by Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury, the shadow minister for international trade telling the showcase that promoting cycling and walking policies should not be controversial.

"Debate around active travel can be polarising," she acknowledged. "In reality, I don't think it's controversial at all... the talk of 15-minute cities, that term may have become a bit pejorative but basically it means having the things you need within 15 minutes walk or cycle, including points of public transport.

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"For most of us this is popular and it provides tangible benefits for communities — cleaner air, better high streets, easier access to amenities and safer roads — as well as free travel and healthier outcomes for those who walk or cycle."

Noting the clear benefits cycling infrastructure has made to her Hounslow borough, Cadbury stressed the importance of it being funded "properly and sustainably" and said the APPGCW was "disappointed" to learn of a cut to the active travel budget in last month's Spring Budget.

The cuts were described as a "backward move" at the time by the Walking & Cycling Alliance (WACA), with £100 million now available for active travel projects in England (outside of London) during the next two years, estimated to be two-thirds of the previously pledged amount.

Cyclist LTN planter, Hackney London (by Adwitiya Pal)

Cadbury suggested it is difficult to know exactly how great the cuts are but said the estimated £50 million per year is "shockingly low for an economy and nation like ours".

"This compares to in London, the spending is £150 million over the same period," she put in context. "Members of this group, across all parties and across both houses, will continue to make the case for the importance of cycling and walking, and consistent funding in order to achieve that."

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Fellow co-chair Selaine Saxby, Conservative MP for North Devon, acknowledged last month's budget but suggested the funding available is "still unprecedented" and "provides an opportunity to show what can be delivered".

"I'm really proud to champion active travel in Parliament and have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to highlight a wide support base for active travel," she said.  

"All told, around £3 billion is expected to be invested in active travel over the course of this parliament. The APPGCW will continue to work collaboratively to make the case for active travel across all relevant government departments."

The event was supported by Raleigh and attended by numerous groups and names from the cycling world, including Cycling UK, Sustrans, Pedal Me and many more. 

Several Labour MPs were in attendance, including the group's treasurer Fabian Hamilton, as well as Conservative MPs Tracey Crouch, Darren Henry and Saxby, with the Green Party's Jenny Jones and SNP representation also present, Cadbury saying the chance to bring politicians together to "hear from those making a change" in an "unnecessarily polarising" debate is "welcome".

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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Bungle_52 | 1 year ago

It always amazes me that everyone seems to focus on making cycing safer by providing expensive infrastucture rather than reducing speeed limits and dealing properly with poor driving around cyclists which would cost little or, with some imagination, could even make money by fining careless or inconsiderate drivers.

hawkinspeter replied to Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
Bungle_52 wrote:

It always amazes me that everyone seems to focus on making cycing safer by providing expensive infrastucture rather than reducing speeed limits and dealing properly with poor driving around cyclists which would cost little or, with some imagination, could even make money by fining careless or inconsiderate drivers.

Infrastructure is usually thought of as a more permanent fix as traffic policing can be thwarted by politicians spouting "war on motorist" and currently our police forces are either severely under-resourced or are busy trying to deal with their own internal issues. I think we should be both building infrastructure and increasing traffic policing as many career criminals are likely to be driving in an illegal manner too (c.f. the capture of the Yorkshire Ripper).

chrisonabike replied to Bungle_52 | 1 year ago

We need both.  Just concentrating on the enforcement side would only make cycling marginally safer for the tiny numbers of current cyclists.  It won't persuade anyone else to get out on the road.

Consider: lots of people own bicycles.  A large number of trips are cycleable.  Cycling is a very safe activity statistically - yet I constantly hear people say "it doesn't look / feel safe"*.  None of the previous points has changed in decades and still most people do not use cycling as a mode of transport or even recreation.

* They may just be rationalising an emotional decision of course - and it would be a change and that takes energy, time etc.  The reason people don't change is likely something like cycling isn't normal and most other people drive, not cycle.  Then it's not seen as convenient (and there's truth to that in the UK).  Especially when compared to driving - and most people already have access to a motor vehicle.

Cycloid replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago

Lots of people own cycles and leave them in the garage, as you say it's the perception of danger which keeps the bikes in the garage. But...

It has been shown that there is a link between near misses (perception) and  collisions, so after a couple of close passes the average person may well make a rational decision to stop riding the bike. In absolute terms cycling is safe, but not so attactive in relative terms. Active travel is about replacing car journeys with walking, cycling and public transport. If you make the same journey (say commute, trip to the shops) by car and by bicycle you are 25 times more likely to become a KSI statistic on the bike.


eburtthebike | 1 year ago

MP stresses need for "consistent" cycling funding....

Yes, something CUK has been saying for many years, and has been promised by politicians many times, so why do we need to keep saying it?  Everyone knows that investing in active travel is the best bang for buck that a government can do, there have been endless reports showing it, and even the DfT agrees, but our political system ensures that vested interests rule, and take all the money.

It is hard to see what is going to change, and the pressing problems of society, to which cycling is an important answer, don't appear to be sufficient to make our politicians brave enough to stand up to the dinosaurs.  The obesity epidemic, congestion, climate change, pollution, danger, all hugely important, but apparently, not important enough to give politicians a spine.

brooksby replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago

couhg - cough - comprehensive review of road traffic laws - cough - cough

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