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Government tells councils it won’t fund painted cycle lanes

Department for Transport reiterates that it will only pay for segregated infrastructure as it invites fresh applications for funding

The Department for Transport (DfT) has written to local authorities in England to reinforce its guidance from last year that it will not fund cycle lanes that are marked out with paint and that any applications for funding need to include segregation.

In a letter sent to councils this week, DfT deputy director Rupert Furness underlined that applications for grants from the government’s Active Travel Fund involving cycling schemes need to comply with the LTN 1/20 standard, reports transport journalist Carlton Reid on Forbes.com.

In May last year, as the government made encouraging active travel a central part of its plans for the country’s emergence from the coronavirus pandemic, the DfT made £250 million available for cycling and walking projects.

At the time, it said that “to receive any money under this or future tranches, you will need to show us that you have a swift and meaningful plan to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians, including strategic corridors.”

Inviting councils to apply for a fresh wave of funding this week, Furness told them that the DfT “only intends to fund schemes which comply with the Cycling Design Standards set out in local transport note LTN 1/20.

“All cycling schemes will need to include segregation or point closures to through traffic,” he continued.

“Advisory cycle lanes, and those marked only with white paint, will not be funded.”

While the letter said that consultations needed to be carried out on planned schemes, which often attract opposition from a vocal minority, Furness stressed that “Consultation does not mean giving anyone a veto, requiring consensus on schemes, or prioritising the loudest voices.”

He added that schemes needed to have “sufficient time to bed in and for benefits to be realised before any changes are made,” and that in cases where they were taken out prematurely, the DfT could seek to recover funding.

Last year, a study led by Thomas Adams of TfL, based on collisions that took place between 2016 and 2018 and which were notified to police, found that painted mandatory cycle lanes – those demarcated with a solid white line – made no difference to the safety of cyclists than having no cycle lane at all.

> Painted advisory cycle lanes increase risk of cyclist casualties, study finds

The same study found that advisory cycle lanes – marked out with a broken white line – actually increased the risks to cyclists.

Professor Rachel Aldred, co-author of the article and Director of Westminster University’s Active Travel Academy, said: “This research shows a clear difference in cycling safety between high-quality protected infrastructure and advisory lanes, with the former reducing injury risk and the latter raising it.

“Transport authorities that want to make cycling safer need to avoid putting in new paint-only infrastructure and start converting existing advisory lanes to safer protected tracks and lanes,” she added.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc 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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