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Government urged to increase funding as cycling levels fall in England for second year running

Campaigners call on Boris Johnson to make more money available

New figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that the percentage of adults in England cycling at least once a month has fallen for the second year running. The news comes as campaigners urge the government to increase funding.

In 2017/18, 16.1 per cent of adults in England cycled once a month or more, down from 16.9 per cent the previous year and 17.1 per cent in 2015/16.

Falls were also seen among more frequent cyclists, with the percentage of people riding once a week down from 11.9 per cent to 11.5 per cent over the two-year period, while the proportion riding five times a week fell from 3.4 per cent to 3.3 per cent over the same timeframe.

As ever, are were huge variations across the country. In England’s cycling capital, Cambridge, around two thirds of adults cycle once a month or more, while in Oxford, more than four in ten people do.

By contrast, towns and cities including Luton, plus, in northwest England, Burnley, Blackburn and Rochdale, as well as in some Outer London boroughs, came in at less than half the average for England as a whole, with monthly participation levels less than 8 per cent.

Following the general election earlier this month, Cycling UK chief executive urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to increase the funding for cycling and invest in safe infrastructure to get more people in the saddle.

In its election manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged £350 million for cycling over the next five years – equivalent to £1.55 per person per year, down from the existing £7.

The Cycling & Walking Alliance, of which Cycling UK is a member, has called for funding of £17 per person per year, rising to £34 by 2025.

Tuohy said: “Cycling UK is alarmed at the prospect of a new government slashing the level of funding for cycling in England to less than a quarter of its current levels for the next five years.

“The Conservatives in their manifesto have promised to spend just £70 million a year on cycling infrastructure, opening up a chasm between what has been promised and what is actually needed.”

He continued: “The Conservative manifesto commitment would see the current £7 per head currently being spent on walking and cycling in England, outside of London slashed to just £1.55 per head.

“This would be an abject failure by this incoming government to address the climate, air pollution, congestion and inactivity-related health crises the country is now facing.

“That’s why we will be writing to Boris Johnson demanding an urgent re-evaluation of his party’s spending pledge if he is truly serious about making the country ‘the greenest, cleanest on earth’,” he added.

However, in response to calls for campaigners to increase funding, a spokeswoman for the DfT said:  “We’re determined to dramatically increase cycling and walking, giving more people the opportunity to exercise safely as part of their normal daily commute.

“Cycling in England increased last year with more than a billion trips taken by bike, a 22 per cent increase since 2013. The £350 million cycle infrastructure fund is just one part of a wider package of investment in active travel.

“Further funding will be drawn from a number of sources, including £100 billion of additional spending for renewal of roads and other infrastructure.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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12 comments

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CXR94Di2 | 4 years ago
2 likes

Allow ebike assist to 20 mph, making close pass an offence, vehicles presumed liability in accident s will see a massive explosion in cycling numbers. In Germany last year something like 1.5 million bikes are ebikes. The likes of Berlin have seen a massive vehicle numbers drop as ebike usage replaces commute distance journeys.

Avatar
Luca Patrono replied to CXR94Di2 | 4 years ago
1 like
CXR94Di2 wrote:

Allow ebike assist to 20 mph, making close pass an offence, vehicles presumed liability in accident s will see a massive explosion in cycling numbers. In Germany last year something like 1.5 million bikes are ebikes. The likes of Berlin have seen a massive vehicle numbers drop as ebike usage replaces commute distance journeys.

All of that will be lobbied against relentlessly here.

Avatar
Batchy | 4 years ago
6 likes

You only get what you vote for ! Spending down from £7.00 to £1.50 under this wonderful Tory " Get Brexit Done" government?

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hobbeldehoy | 4 years ago
1 like

Does this include indoor cycling? If so my number of trips is up.

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Rik Mayals unde... | 4 years ago
1 like

"By contrast, towns and cities including Luton, plus, in northwest England, Burnley, Blackburn and Rochdale, as well as in some Outer London boroughs, came in at less than half the average for England as a whole, with monthly participation levels less than 8 per cent."

Is it purely coincidental that all these towns and cities mentioned have a very sizeable Asian population? Perhaps, they should be encouraged to leave their huge gas guzzling cars at home and use the bike for the short journeys. I recently saw a young lad in Deepdale, Preston, drive from the mosque to his terraced house, some 200 yards away, in a Rolls Royce Cullinan.

Avatar
HarrogateSpa | 4 years ago
1 like

We know that good quality segregated cycle infra works, because we see that it leads to mass cycling in other countries.

Better law enforcement is needed, but alone it simply won't get most people on bikes because they will still be scared.

Avatar
CyclingInBeastMode replied to HarrogateSpa | 4 years ago
1 like
HarrogateSpa wrote:

We know that good quality segregated cycle infra works, because we see that it leads to mass cycling in other countries.

Better law enforcement is needed, but alone it simply won't get most people on bikes because they will still be scared.

It has not worked in this country, we will NEVER get like for like infra in this country in the next 50 years, when will segregationists get it through their heads that cycle infra will not raise cycling by any significant margin in this country! 

When the option to drive is far easier and safer - yes, segregated has some minor intances of making it safer but as we see in NL where infra junctions with a road it's one of the most lethal spots known to cyclists, there is very little appeal to cycle for the majority. Cycle infra as being planned is narrow minded crap, it has no hallmarks of being suitable for mass cycling for even 5% modal share, never mind 26% modal share!

Without the things I outlined, cycling investment is futile, bordering pointless, motoring has to be directly restricted and by force and the justice system atually doing its job.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... replied to CyclingInBeastMode | 4 years ago
3 likes
CyclingInBeastMode wrote:
HarrogateSpa wrote:

We know that good quality segregated cycle infra works, because we see that it leads to mass cycling in other countries.

Better law enforcement is needed, but alone it simply won't get most people on bikes because they will still be scared.

It has not worked in this country, we will NEVER get like for like infra in this country in the next 50 years, when will segregationists get it through their heads that cycle infra will not raise cycling by any significant margin in this country! 

When the option to drive is far easier and safer - yes, segregated has some minor intances of making it safer but as we see in NL where infra junctions with a road it's one of the most lethal spots known to cyclists, there is very little appeal to cycle for the majority. Cycle infra as being planned is narrow minded crap, it has no hallmarks of being suitable for mass cycling for even 5% modal share, never mind 26% modal share!

Without the things I outlined, cycling investment is futile, bordering pointless, motoring has to be directly restricted and by force and the justice system atually doing its job.

 

It has not worked in this country, we will NEVER get motoring directly restricted by force and the justice system atually doing its job in this country.  When will legalists get it through their heads that trying to force motorists to behave through the legal system is futile, bordering pointless.

You dismiss the one thing that has worked at least partially in at least one country, and instead demand something that has never been achieved anywhere, and which is clearly even less likely to happen than the ideas you attack!

 

Anyway, sane transport policies are just one of the things that we are unlikely to ever get.  Human beings simply aren't capable of organising themselves in any sort of rational manner.  We haven't evolved to be able to do so.  We are chimps with tanks, monkeys with missiles.

Avatar
CyclingInBeastMode | 4 years ago
4 likes

Investing in cycling is actually massively less important than law enforcement and magistrates/judges that actually hand out appropriate sentences, that and addressing the inherrent bias in the justice system with respect to asking other criminal motorists to judge their own by their own piss poor standards. Siply changing motoring crimes that involve harm to humans to against the persons act crimes would change the balance but it nees the police to act and not ignore the assaults happening every day.

Additionally speed restrictions on motors through onboard computers plus banishing motors from certain roads which requires no 'cycling' investment whatsoever would also have a massive effect on safety/cycling numbers, this would increase naturally on both counts.

But let's keep focussing on the wrong things that take decades to roll out if at all and still be a load of inadequate poop even if completed!

Avatar
Rich_cb | 4 years ago
0 likes

They are discussing different metrics.

The cycling rate and the number of trips.

In a growing population it's possible for the cycling rate to stagnate or even slightly fall while the number of trips continues to increase.

Avatar
HarrogateSpa | 4 years ago
2 likes

So cycling rates are down, but according to the DfT spokesperson cycling rates are up.

Is this due to interpretation, cherry-picking the particular statistic you look at, choosing the most convenient year as a benchmark, or just another bare-faced lie?

Avatar
Awavey replied to HarrogateSpa | 4 years ago
0 likes
HarrogateSpa wrote:

So cycling rates are down, but according to the DfT spokesperson cycling rates are up.

Is this due to interpretation, cherry-picking the particular statistic you look at, choosing the most convenient year as a benchmark, or just another bare-faced lie?

No weirdly the data is that contradictory  1 cycle rates are down by 0.3% (you can debate if that's even statistically that significant) in England for people who say they cycle once per month, but it's up by nearly the same amount,0.4%, for those who identify as riding 5 times per week, both though are above the levels in 2015/16.

So its a complex picture  1

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