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CTC welcomes Government progress on cycling but far more is still needed

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CTC has welcomed the progress outlined in the Government's response to the parliamentary "Get Britain Cycling" inquiry, but believes far more is still needed if we are to even start catching up with the levels of cycle use common among our continental neighbours.
Norman Baker chats to councillors in Cambridge
Norman Baker chats to councillors in Cambridge

Released just days before the Commons debate on the report by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) on its 'Get Britain Cycling' inquiry, the Government's response outlines progress the Government feels it has made on the report's 18 recommendations. It rejects 2 of them however: one being the call for national targets to boost cycle use (the report advocated targets for 10% of trips to be made by cycle by 2025 and 25% by 2050), the other being for a national cycling champion (or 'czar').

CTC's local Right to Ride rep Rupert Goodings attended the press event at Cambridge railway station where transport minister Norman Baker MP launched the report, accompanied by APPCG co-chair (and Cambridge LibDem MP) Julian Huppert.

 

Norman Baker was being asked if this wasn't a half hearted response to the enquiry. I would like to know why the Government has not accepted the report in full given that the press statement says they want to go "further and faster".  

Rupert Goodings 
CTC Right to Ride Rep

Debate in Parliament

CTC and its partners in the UK Cycling Alliance have issued a high-level briefing and a fuller briefing circulated to APPCG members and other MPs who have told us they expect to speak in the debate.  Thank you to the many CTC members who have encouraged your MPs to attend - your feedback has been extremely useful!

CTC readily acknowledges the considerable progress made by the Departments for Transport and for Health in the past 18 months.  However, we also believe that far more funding, strengthened cycling design standards and closer collaboration with other Government departments on the promotion of cycling are needed if we are to maximise cycling's enormous health, economic, environmental and other benefits. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin wrote in the Times that the Prime Minister's recent funding announcements were "just a start" and that "I want to do more".  CTC and our partners will now strongly urge him and his ministerial colleagues in all relevant Government departments to make good on his stated aims, as his officials start preparing the cross-Governmental Cycling Action Plan which is now promised for later this year.

The following summarises CTC's view on progress to date and what now needs to be done.

Positive progress:

  • £10 per head (but so far only for 8 cities for 2 years...)

The Prime Minister's recent announcement of £94m of Government cash over 2 years, backed by £54m of local contributions, should help boost cycle use in 8 cities and 4 national parks. The Government says that the cities' funding amounts to £10 per head for the population of those areas.

The Government has made welcome progress in the past 18 months on boosting the funding and priority for cycling, yet there is an awful lot more still to be done.  We urge political leaders of all parties to support MPs’ calls for sustained funding for cycling of at least £10 per person annually, and to ensure high standards of cycle-friendliness are designed into all new road and traffic schemes.
Roger Geffen
CTC Campaigns & Policy Director

Whilst this only accounts for around 1/10 of Britain's population (not the whole of it), and so far lasts for just 2 years, CTC nonetheless welcomes the fact that the PM has effectively acknowledged the importance of reaching this level of spending in order to boost cycle use.  CTC now urges political leaders of all parties to commit to long-term spending of at least this amount in order to boost cycle use towards continental levels.

  • New regulations to permit continental cycle provision

The Department for Transport's commitment to consider amending traffic regulations to permit continental-style cycle facilities such as Dutch roundabouts and cycle-specific traffic lights.  These features are common in other European countries yet at present they cannot be implemented under UK rules.

  • Revised sentencing guidelines

Confirmation that the Sentencing Guidelines Council will conduct a review of sentencing policy for the recently introduced offences of 'Causing Death by Careless Driving' and 'Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving' and for the offence of 'Causing Death by Dangerous Driving'.

Nonetheless, CTC and other cycling organisations have been pressing the Government for a far wider review, not only of sentencing for other offences besides those listed, but also their definitions.  For more, see CTC's Road Justice campaign.

Further work needed

In addition to increased funding for the longer term, and a wider-ranging road justice review, CTC also highlights the need for

  • Stronger guidance and standards for cycle-friendly planning and design

These are needed to ensure that high-standards of cycle-friendliness are designed in at the outset of all highway, traffic, junction and even highway maintenance schemes, including those associated with new developments.  The Government has said it is tasking the Highways Agency with "cycle-proofing" all schemes for travel along or across the corridors of trunk roads and motorways, whilst encouraging local authorities to do likewise.  CTC believes action is needed to ensure (not merely encourage) high design standards, and that the Department for Communities and Local Government needs to contribute to this process rather than obstructing it.

  • Lower speed limits

While the Government has made it easier for councils to introduce 20mph schemes, its guidance still merely invites them to consider 20mph schemes, rather than positively encouraging them to progress towards 20mph being the norm for most urban streets, whilst also making much wider use of lower speed limits on rural lanes.

  • Cross-departmental collaboration on promoting cycling

Cycling needs to be positively promoted for people of all ages and backgrounds, and specifically in schools and workplaces, for health patients and people with disabilities, and for people from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds.  This will require positive input not merely from the Department for Health but also the Departments for Schools and for Business - both of which have so far failed to commit to supporting cycling.  The result is that the provision of 'Bikeability' cycle training is a 'post-code' lottery, with some schools and even whole county councils refusing to collaborate.  Long-term funding is also needed to secure the provision of national standard cycle training, not just for children but also for teenagers and for adults wishing to take up cycling in later life.

* * *

As noted above, the Government's 'Get Britain Cycling' inquiry response includes a commitment to work with stakeholders to develop a full-blown cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan this autumn.  CTC will be working to ensure that these and other issues are incorporated into it.

 

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