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Government urged to safeguard funding for cycling and walking in England

Campaigners warn Infrastructure Bill may see funding “falling off a cliff edge after 2016”

British Cycling, Sustrans and CTC have joined forces with three other national organisations to push for an amendment to the government’s Infrastructure Bill to safeguard funding for walking and cycling, which they warn “is in danger of falling off a cliff edge after 2016.”

The amendment to the bill will be tabled by Lord Berkeley and Lord Judd when the House of Lords returns from summer recess in mid-October, and calls for an investment model similar to that used for the railways.

It would also require the government to issue a binding Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy, focusing on four areas:

A long-term vision to increase walking and cycling rates across the whole population, in rural as well as urban areas

A ‘Statement of Funds Available’ for the next five years that would be spent specifically on cycling and walking

A detailed Investment Plan of programmes and schemes - for example to improve cycle-rail integration, retrofit safe walking and cycling paths along busy roads and give provincial towns and cities London-style cycling measures and exemplary public spaces

A Performance Specification of measures and targets - for example increases in cycling and walking levels, improvement in safety, and the proportion of schools and stations with safe routes to them.

The three cycling organisations have been joined in lobbying for the change by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Campaign for Better Transport, and Living Streets.

They point out that in Germany, cycling has risen from 10 per cent to 14 per cent of all journeys within the past five years, while in England, levels have remained at 2 per cent since the 1990s. Walking trips, meanwhile, have fallen 30 per cent per person since the mid-1990s, according to the National Travel Survey.

At the same time, levels of funding for cycling remain low, standing at around £2 per head. Last year’s Get Britain Cycling report from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) called on funding of £10 per head each year, increasing to £20 once levels of cycling rise. The House of Commons Transport Committee last month called for “a steady and planned increase in per-capita funding for cycling” to £10 per head by 2020.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill claimed while addressing a meeting of the APPCG last month that the government is spending £10 per head – but that only applies to certain of the cities given funding under the Cycle City Ambition initiative, and only applies for two years, far from the nationwide, ongoing funding that campaigners are seeking.

Ralph Smyth, senior transport campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, warned that a lack of guaranteed funding for cycling and walking would undermine attempts to grow both.

“The combination of a tripling of spending on road-building, further cuts to local authorities and an end to ring-fenced budgets for sustainable travel will squeeze investment in walking and cycling,” he said.

“England desperately needs to catch up with neighbouring countries and make physically active forms of travel the norm for everyday journeys. But the funding picture is now so bleak, we risk not just huffing and puffing but actually dropping out of the race.”

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, contrasted the government’s approach to investment in active travel with that for other modes of transport, saying: “It’s inexcusable that the Department for Transport says it can’t guarantee spending on walking and cycling beyond 2016, when it’s already doing that for rail and roads.

“With the Infrastructure Bill not expected to become law until March 2015, this amendment will keep the pressure on MPs right up to election.”

Martin Key, campaigns manager at British Cycling added: “Outside London it’s as if the funding tap is going to be turned off for walking and cycling after 2016. This is not just about new safe routes for cycling or more attractive town centres - without guaranteed investment, local roads and pavements could crumble beneath our wheels and our feet.”

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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