British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, has urged the Secretary of State for Transport to learn from the mistakes of previous ‘stop-start investment’ in cycling after the Department for Transport’s budget was confirmed in this week’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, announced on Wednesday that £300m is available for cycling initiatives over the course of this Parliament. However, British Cycling’s Chief Executive, Ian Drake, says it is ‘essential’ that this fund is additional to the vital investment required to make our roads and junctions safer for cycling.
The Department for Transport has the chance to finance this vital infrastructure improvement in its forthcoming Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, and Boardman has urged the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP, to deliver the funds to match the Prime Minister’s stated ambition for a ‘cycling revolution’.
Writing on behalf of British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling Network, the former Olympic champion said:
“With the department’s budget now set following the Comprehensive Spending Review we urge him to leave room in finances to deliver a credible Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.
“It is essential that the £300 million of investment announced yesterday by the Chancellor, is in addition to the vital investment required to make our roads and junctions safer brought forward by the department in a long term coherent strategy.
“The Prime Minister has repeatedly talked of his ambition to see a ‘cycling revolution’ and stated his aim to see investment increase to recognised minimum level of investment of £10 per head per year. This ambition is set out in the Conservative Party’s manifesto which makes a commitment to double the number of journeys cycled.
“The department’s own figures show that cycling delivers a far higher return on investment than road building or HS2, nearly 6:1, and the sums involved are a fraction of overall budgets. The national investment needed starts at just £10 per head a year – this is just 3% of what is spent per head on transport.”
Boardman also praised the ‘steady increase in investment’ that McLoughlin has presided over during his leadership of the Department for Transport, but stressed that a long-term commitment is now needed.
“We have been down this road before. Stop-start investment for cycling does not deliver increases in journeys at a national level. We also know that more road building will lead to more congestion unless alternative options are provided. What is needed is a long-term commitment to deliver the capital and revenue investment needed to make cycling and walking a genuine alternative to our congested roads.
“The department now have everything it needs to deliver. A supportive Prime Minister, a manifesto commitment, a parliamentary majority, cross-party support and the legislation to underpin long term investment has already been passed. They have examples from cities in the UK and other European countries from which to learn, along with the full-throated support of businesses that know an active, healthy workforce is good for their bottom line.
“Investing in cycling is investing in our future by helping us deliver a healthier and more productive society. The #ChooseCycling Network looks forward to seeing how the statement of funds will deliver a credible Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.
“Our Network is ready to engage with the Department for Transport throughout this process.”