Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Cycling Minister confirms cycle network will be built around HS2 - but says it won't be the long distance cycle track suggested by Boris Johnson

Meanwhile campaigners warn at the current rate of progress it will take 50 years to double cycling in the UK
  • Cycling minister, Robert Goodwill, says a network of cycle routes will be developed alongside High Speed 2 from existing bridleways and footpaths
  • Goodwill admits cycling is not going to see an "overnight revolution" in this country
  • He concedes there are huge differences in quality of cycle infrastructure nationwide but says it is up to individual councils to take the lead
  • Says there is money for infrastructure, and he is 'in negotiations with the treasury' over cycling funding
  • However CTC's Roger Geffen said at current rate of growth it will take 50 years to double cycling in the UK from its "pathetically low level"

Cycling minister, Robert Goodwill, has today confirmed High Speed 2 will see a network of cycle routes developed alongside it - but it won't be the long-distance cycle track Boris Johnson suggested.

Goodwill, who is also the minister in charge of the £43bn HS2 rail project, made the comments to during the annual Parliamentary Bike Ride in London, which kick starts Bike Week. This year's ride had a record number of 24 MPs signed up.

However CTC's Roger Geffen has said at the current rate of spending it will take 50 years to double cycling in the UK, something the Conservative government has said it wants to achieve by 2025.

Referring to an idea first mooted by Boris Johnson, who wanted a long-distance bike route alongside the scheme, Goodwill, who is also the minister for HS2 said the rail project "is obviously going to include opportunities for cycle infrastructure", the details of which, he said, are still being worked out.

He said: "That isn't just a cycle track down the side of the railway, this is about integrating existing bridle paths and cycle ways to a network of footpath and cycling that will enable people to take advantage of the corridor that we're procuring."

"It will be looking at journeys that people are making, travel to work journeys, recreational journeys, generally ensuring that we take the opportunity that HS2 provides. People won't see HS2 as something that's cutting through footpaths and right of ways, it is something giving people the opportunity to leverage them in."

Goodwill admitted there is a huge difference in infrastructure quality around the country, and where some councils understand cycling in others, he said "there isn't a single councillor who really gets it".

He said: "As I go around the country I see some really good things but I also see some really bad things: we cycled from Kings Cross to Westminster and there was some really good cycling provision in Camden, for example, and then you go to Southwark, and there's some half decent stuff and then suddenly you get to this confusing junction and you don't know where you're meant to go."

"It's often just down to one person who decides 'we're going to make this a cycling city' or 'we're going to do what we can'".

Campaigners say a national design standard is needed to eliminate bad practice, but while Goodwill said segregated infrastructure is the ideal, and that he uses one of London's cycle superhighways each morning which, he called "great", he wouldn't be drawn on a national standard, rather enigmatically saying it is a matter of "spreading the word and making sure they understand", and of people using their votes in local elections.

He said: "We are a party of localism and it's up to [councils] to take that lead.

"I think as we get more and more people cycling, both recreationally and as a journey to work, it is starting to happen that the cycling vote is an important one, and even people that don't cycle, understand the importance of taking people out of cars."

"I think it's not going to be an overnight's about putting the money in over a period of time so you've got incremental improvement in the infrastructure."

When asked about how recent funding cuts to cycling of £23 million will bite, Goodwill said: "We're in negotiations with the Treasury at the moment, but we do have money in the budget for infrastructure."

CTC's Roger Geffen said at the current rate of growth and spending it will take 50 years to double cycling, a target the government said it wants to achieve by 2025.

Geffen said: "We have got to radically accelerate the growth of cycling use even just to double cycle use within 10 years from its currently pathetically low level.

"The question is firstly how soon are we going to get to £10 per head, and beyond that is that funding going to come from the Treasury or from the Department [for Transport] budget? The thing that would do the most for cycling would be to lose a few road schemes because that way the money is being spent on cycling and it is not facilitating long distance driving."

Labour's Ian Austin MP, Co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, struck an optimistic note about the future of cycling in the UK, saying: "I think if you said 10 years ago that there would be as many people cycling in London, a popular bike hire scheme, cycle superhighways, a mayor taking cycling seriously, I don't think people would have believed that and I think what's happening in London shows what we can achieve nationwide, with politicians committed to it."

Add new comment


a.jumper | 8 years ago

London cycle design standards allow 10mph design speeds, don't they? Blow that! Let's have decent national standards, like carriageways and motorways have, please... no localism there and with good reason: road dangers are matters of life and death.

emishi55 | 8 years ago

For London the New London Cycle Design Standards are the way ahead. These are based on, and borrowed from Dutch standards of design provision.

It should be mandatory for any London councillor or traffic engineer to use these as reference, before being allowed access to any kind of funding.

Unfortunately the SUSTRANS manaual is not so forward thinking

Accessibility f... | 8 years ago

> it is up to individual councils to take the lead

Remember when councils designed their own road signage? Remember when at some point in the mid 20th-century, the government said "no, that won't do, it's confusing" - and created national standards that councils had to follow?

Why the fuck do we not simply update the traffic signs manual to include cycling infrastructure that actually works?

cat1commuter | 8 years ago

Exactly. Localism, except for important things like cars.

redhanded | 8 years ago

Ah yes, the party of localism except when it comes to car parking when Eric Pickles pushes through a law to stop local councils using cameras for enforcement.

Airzound | 8 years ago

Goodwill is so full of shit. Good will he certainly is NOT.

Anyway great idea to have horses riding along side a high speed train line! As if this is a good idea ……………… The road will be covered in shit they will be so frightened and bolt every time a train thunders by. The Tory nasty party really are nasty.

Boris might yet be PM which might be an unmitigated disaster but at least cycling might or might not get a boost as Boris can be so unpredictable who knows he might suddenly change his mind. Anyway I wouldn't want to ride alongside a high speed rail line with trains thundering by every 10 minutes trying to dodge the many piles of shit from spooked 'orses.


HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago

Is 'unambitious' Mr Goodwill's defining characteristic?

HKCambridge | 8 years ago

"I think it's not going to be an overnight's about putting the money in over a period of time so you've got incremental improvement in the infrastructure."

If you put no money and no standards in of course it's not going to be a bloody overnight revolution. Seville increased cycle journeys ten-fold from a low base with three years of infrastructure building.

Paul M | 8 years ago

"He said: "We are a party of localism and it's up to [councils] to take that lead."

I can hear them now, the hollow laughs from teachers and parents at "underperforming" or "coasting" schools, the council finance officers, the men in charge of the bins, the parking managers......

Funny how he didn't mention the real contrast between boroughs, where you reach the end of the Camden 7 Stations route as it meets the Westminster border. Now which party holds sway in that borough??

mrmo | 8 years ago

how about every council builds there own motorways to their own design, what about every council building there own bit of high speed rail track, again using their own in-house spec.

What could possibly go wrong?

roeboy | 8 years ago

"individual councils to take the lead" what a load of BS the councils have all had their budgets cut by the Tories and cycling will not get a look in

Latest Comments