A £148m windfall to make cycling safer and more attractive in England’s biggest cities has been announced by prime minister David Cameron.
It is hoped that the money – claimed to be the biggest single cash injection into cycling – will boost the number of journeys made by bike from its low level of two percent compared to other forms of transport. The money is due to be spent by 2015. Cameron also said that councils will be expected to consider cycle-friendly design when planning new building projects.
The prime minister also announced a feasibility study to investigate whether a bike path could follow the HS2 high speed rail programme linking London with Birmingham and the north of England.
The Department for Transport (DfT) will contribute £77m to eight cities outside London, including Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol. The addition of local authority match funding to pre-approved, so-called ‘shovel ready’ projects means spending in these cities will rise from approximately £2 per local resident to £10. That was a key recommendation in the cornerstone Get Britain Cycling report commissioned by a cross-party group of MPs and published in April.
Oxford is set to benefit from £835,000 to improve the Plain roundabout
The New Forest, Peak District, South Downs and Dartmoor national parks will share £17m to improve cycle access to the areas, improve existing routes and build new greenways.
About £20m will also be spent at 14 points on the trunk road network, where dangerous or off-putting junctions or sections inhibit cycling.
Cameron said: “Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high – now we want to see cycling soar. Our athletes have shown they are among the best in the world and we want to build on that, taking our cycling success beyond the arena and onto the roads, starting a cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists.
“This government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle, as well as encouraging far more people to take it up, and business, local government, developers, road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in helping to achieve this.”
The PM’s intervention is likely to be welcomed by cycling campaign groups and high profile individuals such as Olympic champion Chris Boardman and newscaster Jon Snow, who have called on the PM to show strong political leadership on cycling issues.
Investment level must be maintained
Malcolm Shepherd is chief executive of leading cycle charity Sustrans, who govern the the National Cycling Network. He welcomed the announcement: “This is fantastic news for those living in the successful cities. Getting about by bike for everyday journeys could become a reality for people of all ages and abilities in those areas, and we warmly welcome this initiative.
“We welcome the recognition that, for the cycling revolution to become a way of life for us, all this level of investment must be maintained and extended to all parts of the UK, including rural areas.”
The prime minister's pledge could mean more disused railways are turned into bike paths
Cities receiving DfT funding
- Greater Manchester – £20m
- West Yorkshire (Leeds) – £18.1m
- Birmingham – £17m
- West of England (Bristol and Bath) – £7.8m
- Newcastle – £5.7m
- Cambridge – £4.1m
- Norwich – £3.7m
- Oxford – £0.8m
National parks receiving DfT funding
- Peak District – £5m
- Dartmoor – £4.4m
- South Downs – £3.8m
- New Forest – £3.6m