Six cycling and walking commissioners representing millions of people across Great Britain have urged the government to stop wasting “hundreds of millions of pounds” on painted cycle lanes and instead invest in high-quality infrastructure.
The appeal is made in a letter sent to transport secretary Chris Grayling ahead of a national summit today, which calls on politicians to implement five measures to encourage people to choose active travel.
The letter, signed by Chris Boardman (Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, Dame Sarah Storey (Sheffield City Region), Shanaze Reade (West Midlands), Will Norman (London), Lee Craigie (Scotland) and Simon O’Brien (Liverpool), calls on the government to:
Commit to long-term devolved funding
A political commitment to minimum quality levels
Enable the local retention of fixed penalty notices to fund road danger reduction measures
Enable us to innovate by keeping road traffic regulations under review
Transport investment decisions should account for the true cost of car use to society
Boardman, who is currently developing Greater Manchester’s Bee Network of walking and cycling routes, said: “It’s tragic that hundreds of millions of pounds of government money have been spent on sub-standard cycling and walking infrastructure.
“If national government were to adopt these asks we’d be on a winning streak and could truly transform Britain’s towns and cities, not to mention massively improving air quality and health.
“We need to make decisions based on evidence and we’ve got evidence that this is the right thing to do for our society. It’s not a quick win, it’s a 10-20 year evolution, but we can’t afford not to do this and we simply cannot go on as we are. This is a no brainer.”
London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, added: “Where towns and cities are investing in high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure the benefits are clear – helping tackle our inactivity crisis, helping clean up our toxic air, and making our streets more welcoming places to spend time.
“But for people truly to reap the benefits across the UK, government policy must not continue to hold us back.
“In London we’re investing a record £2.3 billion in Healthy Streets to enable more walking and cycling, with innovative new quality criteria improving the standard of new infrastructure in the capital.
“But for the benefits of walking and cycling to be felt across the country, it is essential we now have a genuinely national commitment led by the Government.”
The commissioners’ appeal has the backing of British Cycling whose policy manager, Nick Chamberlain, said: “Places like London, Manchester and Scotland have been absolutely instrumental in driving forward the cycling and walking agenda over the past decade, sparking a national conversation about how we change the way we move and the types of places we want to live and work.
“The six commissioners possess a wealth of insight, knowledge and experience, and today’s announcement should send a really clear message to the Department for Transport on what is required to achieve the goals set out in the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy - and the level of support required from the Treasury - as we approach the next Government spending review.
“At British Cycling we are proud to be working closely alongside the six commissioners, and hope to encourage other cities and regions across Britain to adopt the five policy asks themselves in the coming years.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.