British Cycling have said the government should not miss a “blindingly obvious” opportunity to promote cycling and reap its economic and health benefits. Today, chancellor George Osborne announced a nine percent cut in the Department for Transport’s operating budget for 2015/16.
British Cycling’s director of policy and legal affairs, Martin Gibbssaid, said: “In an age where petrol prices are high, the roads are clogged with cars and the obesity epidemic continues, there is distinct need for more sustainable transport options as a way to create more pleasant, healthy towns and cities.”
Gibbs said the DfT were presented with “a blindingly obvious opportunity to prioritise cycling and reassess where the roads budget is going”. But while the department’s operating budget will be cut, the government have promised to invest billions building new roads and railways to stimulate the national economy. Plans for how £100bn will be spent on new infrastructure projects will be unveiled tomorrow.
Gibbs said any new developments must cater for cyclists’ needs from the start. “It is essential that all new roads and infrastructure are built with cycling designed in at the outset. We’re still not doing this.”
In the aftermath of the chancellor’s spending review speech to parliament, walking and cycling charity Sustrans added that investment in roads is not the way to economic recovery.
The charity’s policy director, Jason Torrance, said: “Investment in infrastructure is key to stimulating the UK’s economy, but the government is mistaken if it thinks large scale investment in new roads is anything but a drain on the taxpayer.
“Investing in infrastructure that prioritises walking, cycling and public transport and takes the two-thirds of journeys under five miles off our roads would transform local economies and increase people’s travel choices.”