London Greenways funding slashed

But new cycling cash announced in Scotland

Transport for London is planning to halve London’s Greenways budget and remove its ring-fenced status for the 2010-2011 spending round.

Funding for the 2009-2010 Greenways programme sat at about £4 million, but for the next financial year it will drop significantly to around £2.3 million. Interestingly, the combined boroughs of London had actually asked for a total of around £6 million between them this year, making the scheme massively oversubscribed.

The cuts come despite the popularity a new section of Greenway opened in Beckenham, typifying a programme which aimed to put miles of new cycling and walking routes through London’s green spaces.

London Cycling Campaign were instrumental in persuading previous Mayor Ken Livingstone to set up the programme with a ring-fenced budget because, they say, Greenways are fundamental in getting Londoners back on bikes, and they can be four times more effective at persuading cycling uptake than on-road facilities, according to LCC statistics.

The lack of ring-fencing has very practical implications for the continuance of a London-wide program of Greenways. As from next financial year it will no longer be a centrally funded project, leaving individual boroughs to decide on their own spending on Greenways (or not, as the case may be).

In Scotland however a £3.9 million Cycling Action Plan was recently announced with the very ambitious aim of acheiving 10 percent of all journeys by bike by 2020. The Plan’s intended measures include:

• £2.5 million investment in cycling infrastructure, including new paths.

• £150,000 loan support scheme to help business improve workplace cycling facilities.

• £500,000 to Glasgow City Council for it’s Connect2 project, allowing  cyclists to travel between the city centre, the Clyde riverside promenades, Kelvingrove Park and the West End free of traffic.

• £300,000 on child cycle training.

At a national level it’s not entirely clear how the budget squeeze will impact on cycling. Cycling charity Sustrans say the recently announced £683million cut in transport spending should mark the beginning of a shift in transport investment towards cycling.

With major road schemes dropped and £309 million cut from local transport budgets already, Sustrans is calling on government to use the forthcoming spending review to shift public spending towards cost-effective alternatives based on cycling, walking and public transport.

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