The first beneficiaries of the UK's new Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) – set up in the wake of last year's 'bonfire of the quangos' and the axing of Cycling England – have been announced.
The Greater Manchester Commuter Cycle Project has been awarded nearly £5 million to create 1,100 secure cycle parking spaces, some in centres with lockers, showers and toilets, and others in compounds with storage for waterproofs and helmets. The facilities will benefit not just Manchester city centre but towns across the area such as Bolton, Bury, Wigan and Rochdale.
Just over £4m has gone to Bike North Birmingham for a network of cycle paths and walking routes, along with campaigns to promote these and sustainable travel generally. New walking and cycling routes will also be constructed in South Yorkshire thanks to a grant of nearly £5m.
This will also fund job-connector bus services, a scooter loan scheme (to get people who aren't on bus and rail routes to work) and a drive to get people onto sustainable modes of travel. Meanwhile, Lowestoft gets a pedestrian and cyclist bridge across Lake Lothing, along with greater levels of cycle training and Bike-It officers in schools as part of its £5m package.
The LSTF was set up last year to replace a range of previous central government funding sources. Cycling projects now have to compete with other sustainable transport schemes rather than having a dedicated fund available, as was the case with Cycling England (which had £60m for each of its last two years of operation).
The LSTF has a total budget for the four-year period up to 2014-15 of £560m. The first £155m has gone to a range of projects including some cycling specific ones and some with a cycling aspect. Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "All the winning schemes have one thing in common – they'll help build strong local economies while addressing the urgent challenge of climate change."
Many of the main winners under the previous system – the Cycling Demonstration Towns – appear to be losers when it comes to LSTF funding. For example, Derby's previous funding appears to be evaporating, and an LSTF bid called Bike Club Plus, aiming to continue the work done in former Cycling Demonstration Towns, has been refused. Leicester City Council was the lead partner in this bid, with UK cycling organisation CTC and 14 other local authorities participating.
(Image courtesy of London Cyclist)