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Cheshire East Council officially backs Space for Cycling

Commits 8.5 per cent of local transport budget to active travel

Earlier this week, Cheshire East Council formally passed a motion supporting Cycling UK's Space for Cycling campaign. Among other commitments, the council will allocate 8.5 per cent of its local transport budget for 2017/18 to active travel.

Space for Cycling calls on councils to create a network of cycle-friendly routes, so that anybody of any age or ability can complete their journey by bike.

It asks councils to plan a full network of cycle-friendly routes that allows people of all ages and abilities to cycle anywhere for any purpose; to actively seek the funding to implement the network and invest a minimum of five per cent of the local transport budget in cycling; and to build the network using the most up-to-date, high quality design standards.

The motion was proposed by Labour councillor, Sam Corcoran, and seconded by Conservative councillor, Howard Murray, after both had attended a Space for Cycling workshop in Crewe on December 3.

Commenting on the motion, Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling campaigner, Tom Guha, said: “We are ecstatic to see Cheshire East show such bold leadership regarding cycling. To see a county council allocate 8.5 per cent of their local transport budget to active travel is a clear mark of what can be done when the political will exists. Cheshire East have decisively thrown down the gauntlet for other local authorities to get behind Space for Cycling.”

The council has also set out its Cycling Strategy for 2017-27, which it describes as, “an ambitious vision for a network of high-quality strategic cycle routes which connect local communities and key growth areas, whilst also giving access to leisure opportunities and Cheshire East’s natural environment.”

There are however reservations over how this will be delivered. Corcoran said: “The vision of the strategy is good but the detail over delivery is lacking and the resources needed are not yet available. If the Conservatives are serious about improving cycling facilities then they need to provide the staff to help develop safe cycle routes.”

Guha agreed, saying: “Cheshire East currently has just one part-time member of staff, who has other priorities as well, working on cycling. And currently funding streams are set to run out after just one year. To truly make a success of the two motions passed yesterday, resources must be properly allocated and timescales have to be long-term.”

Ben Wye, Chair of Active Crewe Travel, said: “The unanimous support for cycling marks a sea change in policy that acknowledges cycling, in all its forms, as key in making Cheshire East a better place to live and work. Cycling was agreed as an effective way of saving money in the long term, but we await confirmation of funding now that can make the policy a reality.”

The funding for 2017/18 includes:

  • A share of £5m allocated to Cheshire and Warrington to improve cycle routes which link key housing and employment and development sites
  • £500,000 of council funding matching funding from the Local Growth Fund
  • £612,445 from the Department of Transport to fund Bikeability cycle training for children
  • A commitment from Network Rail to construct cycle facilities alongside the proposed rail replacement bridge on the A530 at Leighton, Crewe
  • Developer funding as part of planning consent agreements

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