Cycling UK raises ‘serious concerns’ over future funding

12.54 | 16 December 2019 | | 26 comments

Cycling UK has warned that cutting funding for cycling would be an ‘abject failure’ by the new Government.

According to Cycling UK, spending on cycling and walking has averaged around £390m a year over the last five years.

The Conservative manifesto pledges to spend £70m a year on cycling infrastructure in England – as part of a new £350 million Cycling Infrastructure Fund.

However, there is no mention of other revenue streams, despite a pledge to extend Bikeability – cycling proficiency training – to every child.

Cycling UK has expressed ‘serious concerns’ that active travel will not be at the forefront of Government plans.

Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK chief executive, said: “The Conservative manifesto commitment would see the current £7 per head current being spent on walking and cycling in England, outside of London to just £1.55 per head.

“This would be an abject failure by this incoming government to address the climate, air pollution, congestion and inactivity-related health crises the country is now facing.”

Cycling UK to write to Boris Johnson
Cycling UK has long been campaigning for an immediate rise in funding for cycling and walking – to at least 5% of total transport spend, increasing to at least 10% within five years.

The charity’s pre-election funding campaign, Standing Up for Cycling and Walking, encouraged parliamentary candidates to pledge their support for increased funding for active travel.

A total of 664 candidates signed the pledge, of whom 43 were elected last week.

Cycling UK says increased funding is the minimum required for the Government to meet its targets of doubling cycling journeys in England by 2025, and to achieve similar levels of walking and cycling throughout the UK.

It has announced its intentions to write to Boris Johnson demanding an urgent re-evaluation of his party’s spending pledge.

Paul Tuohy added: “Former transport minister Jesse Norman acknowledged that funding would have to be at least doubled to meet the Government’s current target to double cycling trips by 2025.

“Yet but from next April there is absolutely zero money earmarked for local authorities to build new cycling and walking schemes.

“We refuse to stand by idly and watch cycling and walking provision further eroded by a lack of central government funding.

“We will continue to fight hard for a sustainable level of spending not only to make our towns and cities welcoming places to travel around, but to create healthier and happier communities the length and breadth of England.”



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    Hugh: I am pleased you do not entirely disagree with me and I do not entirely disagree with you. Your point that the problem is presuading those in the habit of driving short distances to cycle instead is correct. It is an EXTREMELY big challenge. However, with respect, you seem to think there is no point in trying. I can only keep reiterating there is plentiful evidence people will make the change if the conditions are right and perhaps with encouragement to regain confidence to cycle. Cambridge tends to be cited as the closest we have to Holland (while the student population makes a significant contribution, it is far from just them). It probably is but I favour pointing out the amount of cycling now in central London since the introduction of the congestion charge. There are other places where, while they still have some way to go, cycling is increasing; e.g. Portsmouth, Bristol, Leicester, Norwich, Ipswich. I can give a pertinent example from my locality. In Lowestoft there is an out of town centre ASDA with a huge car park. Nevertheless significant numbers cycle to it seemingly because ther are cycle paths to it. As a result, a decent amount of quality covered cycle parking has been provided. Ironically, it is difficult to get a space because, from what I infer, so many staff are cycling to work!

    Cycling UK organises the annual Big Bike Revival. It is about encouraging people to drag out those bikes rusting in sheds, having them checked for roadworthiness and then cycling again. In 2018 it created 13,000 more cycle trips and these are people predominantly cycling for utility purposes and many are driving far less as a result. Also, a number of community cycling clubs have been set up around the UK, which are about encouraging cycling predominantly for ‘everday’ purposes. They are very successful. The other important point is that those returnees/converts tend to use off-road facilities and quieter roads.

    There will also be that hardcore, and admittedly a high percentage, who will dogmatically insist on using their cars. However, their argument you can’t change people so you have to keep improving things for driving is wrong. Firstly, the evidence shows it to be wrong. Secondly, even if it was the case, although many politicians conveniently ignore the point, the fact is buidling more roads encourages more car use of the wrong sort thus more congestion and environmental harm. The point would have to come (I fear it will) when it would need to be said that those who insist on using cars, even when not necessary, will have to put up with the difficulties.

    I now have to be somewhat blunt. Your comment, “I’m a leisure cyclist, but if I need to go to the shops (say 2-3 miles away) the car is quicker, more convenient, practical and insulated from the weather.” In other words, despite being a cyclist you are condoning that type of driving. As I explained, cycling can be made practical for much shopping. Perhaps involves some initial expenditure but can save considerable money long term. What matters if it takes a bit longer if it’s helping the environment and indeed the local economy by contributing to reducing congestion? With regard the weather, my watrproofs keep me bone dry. What is so important about that minimal amount of time reqired to put them on and take them off?

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (11) | Disagree (29)

    John.. I don’t disagree entirely, but I think the problem is persuading those who currently are in the habit of driving relatively short distances to consider cycling instead, rather than persuading more to take it up purely as a leisure activity to which, judging by how many leisure cyclists I see everyday, there is no real impediment or deterrent, if one really wants to do it.

    I’m a leisure cyclist, but if I need to go to the shops (say 2-3 miles away) the car is quicker, more convenient, practical and insulated from the weather!

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (37)

    Hugh Jones: As you state you sometimes cycle, I infer we have one thing in common. It seems, like me, you don’t have traffic fears about cycling. The difference between us seems to be that you cannot understand why others do. However, the fact there may not be any on here who will respond to your question doesn’t prove anything. I assure you if “Joe Public” is asked what most deters them from cycling the vast majority will say, “too many cars on the roads.” If then asked what would encourage them to cycle more they inevitably say, “more cycle paths.” I suspect it is the explanation many of the drivers bemoaning cyclists in this thread would give. Of course, it can be a cop out for bone-idleness, which leads to your earlier posting stating people like the convenience of cars. The vast majoirty of ‘convenience’ car journeys are short and the very ones we need to drastically cut down on to save the planet. If people aren’t prepared to reconsider their transport modes, sorry, the time will come when officialdom has to take over. Some places are already starting. For example, York City Council is to ban cars from the centre in 3 years. However, I reiterate many will reconsider if they feel conditions are right. Using alternatives is not just for “when the mood grabs me.”

    Considering the money people could save, the short-sightedness of so many is astounding: no petrol costs or car park fees and less wear and tear on their cars. Isn’t it those short continuous ‘stop/start’ drives that cause the most wear and tear? If you aren’t stressed by traffic volumes (where off-road facilities come in) cycling can be far less stressful than being stuck in traffic queues and fapping around for a parking space. Not infrequently it can be quicker. Even if not, I suggest a far less stressful journey overrides it taking a bit longer. I hear some saying, you can’t carry much on a bike – wrong! Okay, realistically there are limitations but, also realistically, with the right modern equipment, you can carry a surprising amount by bike (I have just purchased a cargo trailer to cut down even more on the few short car trips I do) You do not need to be super-fit.

    Two final points: firstly, with regard the school run. Children who do it by active means are around 20% more attentive in class. Secondly, for some light-heartedness, there are cycle cargo trailers big enough to accommodate a fridge. Yes, even I would struggle but I think it was worth mentioning!

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (11) | Disagree (31)

    Are there actually any readers who badly want to walk and/or cycle more, but feel deterred from doing so – if so, what it is exactly that prevents them? I walk, cycle and run when the mood grabs me, because there is nothing to stop me.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (1) | Disagree (35)

    Meanwhile see what the City of Ghent is achieving with its Traffic Circulation Plan.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (7) | Disagree (32)

    Strange that on a site dedicated to road safety, many people just seem to want to attack cyclists rather than to be concerned about their safety on the road.

    It is clear that the government’s proposed spending on cycling is, to be polite, inadequate, especially when you consider that such investment is vastly more beneficial in so many terms than any other transport spending. The cost:benefit ratio is at least 1:20, with some studies putting it as high as 1:80, while spending on roads is considered viable at 1:1.5.CE
    According to NICE, achieving the government’s cycling targets would be the most effective way of tackling the obesity epidemic. Then there is congestion, pollution, climate change and the massive improvement in danger reduction from a switch from driving to cycling. The continued failure of the road-building programme is only too clear on our roads , but the mantra of just building one more road to cure congestion is still official policy.

    The government’s spending plans in their Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy were perfectly summed up by Cycling UK, who pointed out that there was very little strategy and even less investment. Increasing cycling levels is so abundantly, obviously the answer to so many of society’s problems that those opposing it are denying reality.

    Richard Burton, Lydney
    Agree (12) | Disagree (7)

    Perhaps James Smith can explain his maths on adding 1.5m for every line of cyclists being overtaken, and his thinking – surely the presence of oncoming traffic means you don’t try overtaking nem con.

    I’d also highlight 2 other factors here.

    1) as transport government has largely been restored to the reconvened Scottish Parliament, never taken from Ulster, and now also managed for Wales by the Senedd, it may bear comparison for the alternative approaches,budgets, & delivery for cycling and walking.

    2) the poor quality, and standards seen where work is done, often creating new and greater risks to those claimed to gain a benefit

    Dave Holladay, GLASGOW
    Agree (17) | Disagree (59)

    Here’s an interesting thing: it has been noticed by an insurance company that cyclists DO make better drivers. Specialist broker, Chris Knott Insurance has set up and is the first in the UK to observe the relationship between road cycling and a clean driving record, rewarding cyclists with significant savings as a result.The broker analysed the claims data of drivers from the cycling community – mainly cycling club members and triathletes – over 1 year and found road cycling enthusiasts have less than half the number of accidents non-cyclists do. According to the data, the average driver claims at a rate of about 13% (i.e. 13 drivers out of 100) but only 6% of its cyclist clients were involved in claims. As lower claims means lower premiums the good news for cyclists is that this specialist broker says they are confident their special rates will save cyclists on premiums a average of 22% against their existing renewal quotes.

    Strikes me as a good reason in itself to encourage more cycling.

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (24) | Disagree (24)

    No surprise more disagree than agree with me!

    Two further points. Firastly, I accept it may not apply to the cycle path Hugh Jones refers to but many cycle paths involve devious routes that are considerably longer and more time consuming. Why should confident cyclists with as much right as anybody else to be on the roads be obliged to bo ’round the houses.’ I bet most drivers would be annoyed. Near me many rat run through a pub car park to avoid an extra 1/4 mile. Putting it bluntly, cycle paths are not for the benefit of drivers. However, if cycle paths encourage people out of cars they help those who genuinely have to drive. Secondly, I am interested to know just how busy the road is Hugh Jones refers to. It does NOT mean I agree that the cyclists staying on-road are wrong.

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (18) | Disagree (18)

    Getting people out on their bikes (or simply walking) for pleasure and recreation is fine and should be supported, however for a lot of necessary journeys, people prefer their cars because of the practicalities and convenience and persuading this latter group to opt to ride a bike or walk instead, is understandably difficult. I like to ride, walk and run for pleasure but prefer to drive when it’s convenient and practical and to be frank, is just as enjoyable!

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (4) | Disagree (50)

    Another important point has occurred to me.

    If it’s considered ridiculous it’s not in the Highway code I agree. However, the Department for Transport’s guidance for cyclists advises that if you ride faster than say 18 mph you should be on the road not the cycle path. Many fit sporting/serious cyclist easily do that and for training for racing even good quality cycle paths are totally impractical. The cyclists who have done us proud in recent years at the Olympics, in the Tour de France etc could not have done so by purely riding on cycle paths. Even track cyclists need some on-road training.

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (20) | Disagree (20)

    The situation you describe is almost certainly the difference between confident and less confident cyclists. I could be wrong, but I suspect the cyclists you see on the road are mostly serious, sporting cyclists. What puts the vast majority off cycling is the perception of danger because of so many motor vehicles on the roads. Off-road cycling facilities and many quiet on-road routes are about trying to get cycling (and out of cars) those who fear doing so on busier roads. It’s unfortunate it’s a misconception. Accident data reveals that overall cycling is safe. You are far more likely to be killed in 1 mile of walking than cycling. In 2004 the figure was one cyclist fatality every 20 million miles, which is over 800 times round the world. It’s possibly increased since then but I think we can assume it’s still extremely low. Unfortunately, throwing those statistics at people does not persuade them onto bikes. There is plenty of evidence cycling infrastructure encourages more cycling and people will get out of cars.

    Going back to the matter of the main road near you. I suspect you’re thinking even cyclists not nervous of traffic are surely still safer away from it on a segregated path. It’s not that simple. There cannot be off-road facilities everywhere and the more cyclists on the roads the safer on-road cycling is. Yes, it can sound a contradiction to the need for cycling infrastructure but that striking the balance between on-road and off-road is the dilemma. Cycling UK makes it clear the first priority should be to consider if the actual road environment can be made comfortable for less traffic confident potential cyclists, but it often still means spending on infrastructure. Final point on this is that, acknowledging I don’t know the particular cycle path, I wonder if there are issues around its quality. So many of them are designed by non-cyclists and are ridiculously inadequate.

    I accept I am not so well qualified to comment on walking. However, there are places people are nervous of walking in. For one thing, not all roads, including in urban areas, have footways. For example, the pedestrian access to my local railway station is being improved because in one direction the only safe way to avoid a busy road with no footway is over a step bridge, which is not good for the disabled or mobility impaired. Ironically, as things stand it arguably encourages cars onto a narrow road with no footway. There is also the point that walking, ironically particularly the school run, can be extremely time consuming and indeed stressful if it involves continually having to wait a long time for a safe moment to cross roads. I’m sure some use that excuse, but perhaps often with some justification. Also, what about that case of the asthmatic girl who died because her walk to school was alongside roads over the EU official safe pollution limits. Many quiet walking routes can be alongside cycling routes. I also believe it should be about encouraging walking as a leisure activity.

    There is a common assuption people cannot be persuaded out of cars. It is wrong!

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (20) | Disagree (21)

    Can I ask…. what actually currently stops those who want to walk or cycle, that more funding would address? Near me, there is a segregated cycle path, a couple of metres parallel to a rural ‘A’ road with fast-moving traffic and yet I still see some cyclists using the main c/way and not the ‘funded’ cycle path.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (8) | Disagree (44)

    Also, walking schemes are about building walking routes to create manageable distances to discourage car use

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (11) | Disagree (2)

    I find it curious that whenever there are press reports around increasing funding for cycling, so many drivers default to commenting about cyclists behaviour. I wonder about the underlying psychologly. Is it that drivers dislike the fact they are being told they need to use their cars far less to save the environment?

    No responsible cyclist disputes there are bad cyclists but please don’t get us started on the treatment we get from some drivers. There is a point worth making with regard the case of the cyclist without a front brake who killed a pedestrian. Again, no responsible cyclist condones him. However, one person bloggred the number of accidents to pedestrians and cyclists caused by drivers during the three weeks of his trial. I forget the figures but they made the point! The only accident involving motor vehicles that made the national media was a particularly bad one on a motorway (was it the M4?) In other words, accidents involving motor vheicles are so common place they only make national headlines when exceptionally bad, whereas cyclists causing fatalities make the headlines because they are so rare. I also do not condone cyclists who ride illegally on pavements with no thought for pedestrians. However, while I refrain from quoting figures, I have copy of the data of accidents to pedestrians on footways caused by all vehicle types. Bikes caused the lowest of all transport modes by considerable margins. Indded, the difference between the figures for private cars and bikes is ‘off the richter scale.’

    Hugh Jones: I agree with you up to a point. Driving the school run has got to be made more difficult by parking restrictions etc. However, there certainly are plenty of road environments where one should be able to understand why parents don’t want their children walking near them or cycling on them. Near me there is a residential road that forms part of the main road network into/out of Lowestoft centre. It’s a narrow road with a ridiculously narrow footway and juggernauts (no less!) come right alongside you.

    My response to James Smith is that when riding two-abreast drivers tend to properly wait unti it is safe to pass rather than coming past too fast and close because of impatience. Something some constabularies now accept. The point about it being easier to overtake two-abreast cyclists because there are in effect fewer of them does depend on the nature of the road and the situation, but it often can be.

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (19) | Disagree (56)

    First may I say that I did not add the MBE title to my comment. When I originally posted it then it failed and so I emailed my comment to RSGB. The comment was then manually added by RSGB who decided to add my title.

    Secondly, I have not advocated breaking rule 66. Why not read it yourself and compare it with my comment.

    Other than that it seems that demonising cycling is considered far more worthy of debate than the level of funding for walking and cycling.

    Now perhaps we can get back on topic.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (13) | Disagree (57)

    Mr Thompson ..I was making the point that there already is sufficient provision for walking, for those who want to. I am quite aware of vehicle problems around schools, but that is not due to the lack of pedestrian facilities i.e footpaths and footways leading to the schoools. I don’t think a walking ‘scheme’ would make walking more attractive to those who chose to drive for whatever reason.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (5) | Disagree (61)

    It should be simple geometry, but I’ll explain here: If a road is say 8m wide and we have to leave a gap of 1.5m to the nearside for a cyclist, allowing say 1m for the cycle to the nearside that is 2.5m, leaving 5.5m
    When they are riding 2 abreast we can round this up to 3.5m leaving 4.5m
    When 3 abreast that would be 4.5m leaving a margin of 3.5m so you risk a collision with an oncoming vehicle or hitting the wall.

    How is that safer! Try drawing a diagram. I wonder how the 3rd man out feels when a frustrated motorist decides to get passed. Why is it assumed that passing cyclists in single file with the legal requirement of a 1.5m gap is less safe given there is more room to pass?

    It is far more common to come across small groups of 2 or 3 than pelotons of 10.

    Of course it is easy to generalise but we are all biased and will remember events that impact us most which confirms those views.

    It’s a pity that Rod King MBE thinks the Highway code doesn’t apply to them and they know better than e.g. rule 66. If you had to have a licence to show that you have undertaken basic instruction and been assessed on the HW code the roads would be safer for everyone, especially for those most vulnerable.

    James Smith GCSE PVCu USB WinXP, Nottingham
    Agree (75) | Disagree (17)

    It’s about time the law about needing a driving licence was enforced.

    “The man who died following a ‘horrific’ hit and run which happened in Coventry on Tuesday night has been named.

    West Midlands Police have confirmed that the man who died was Aaron Wilson, aged 29.

    He suffered multiple serious injuries after being trapped between two vehicles on Longford Road.

    It occurred just before 6pm on Tuesday as the driver of a Mercedes Vito van changed their mind about turning right into Hurst Road.

    They switched lanes, hitting a passing Vauxhall Zafira, shunting it into a parked Ford Fiesta – with Mr Wilson trapped in between the Vauxhall and the Ford.

    Police say the Vito, bearing a cloned registration plate of KU09 CEK, immediately drove off and was found abandoned and burnt out in Grindle Road.

    The occupants of the Zafira, also on cloned plates of FM57 KRG, gathered their belongings from the vehicle and also made off, leaving the victim lying in the road.”

    Full story:

    George Riches, Coventry
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

    No, Hugh Jones, a walking scheme is about encouraging more people to do it to resolve the obesity crisis and save the NHS £17 billion pounds in 20 years. In particular the school run. We have the crazy situation where parents drive their children to school aarguing they wont let them WALK or cycle because there are too many cars on the roads. I live opposite a primary school entrance and very often parents are parked one hour before finishing time. They sit looking at their phones reading those oh so important trivia messages that just cannot wait. If they have ‘time to do that’ they have time to walk. However,it is also about infrastructure to help people feel safer in areas of heavy traffic. I am a cyclist and a driver and, yes, there are bad cyclists but that is not a reason for not encouraging something that does overall make the roads far safer, contributes to resolving the obesity crisis. Too many drivers need to get their heads round the fact cycling is making a comeback

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (28) | Disagree (7)

    What’s a walking ‘scheme’? Is that like footpaths, footways and public rights of way, which have already, long been in existence?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (5) | Disagree (45)

    Of course this article is about the government’s commitment to fund new walking and cycling initiatives, not about the behaviour of cyclists.

    But as we seem to have a “Some of my best friends are cyclists, but….” type of post then perhaps I can explain.

    One person’s “decent gap” can often be another’s “close shave”. Sensible cyclists will often move out on bends to prevent drivers squeezing past and to make themselves more visible within the bend.

    Cyclists in a group are actually easier to overtake safely if they are bunched rather than being strung out in a long single-file line. It is easier to overtake 10 cyclists in a group with a footprint little different from a tractor when the oncoming traffic is clear than it is to overtake 10 cyclists in a line. They are actually assisting you.

    Of course I could in response say that if “Cyclists are some of the most selfish inconsiderate road users I come across”, would it be equally appropriate to equally say “Motorists are some of the most selfish, inconsiderate and deadly road users I come across”. Well, I don’t think it would be appropriate because that is far too much of a generalisation. One could equally say “humans are some of the most murderous animals I come across”. It means nothing unless it can be put into an overall perspective and Joe Peeling fails to do that.

    So please perhaps we can enter the new year without the automatic demonising of cyclists whenever a cycling article appears.

    Rod King MBE
    Agree (26) | Disagree (73)

    I think we should allow cyclists to wear Fox outfits with be bushy tails so we can chase them across fields on horse back with our hounds in pursuit. It would please the protesters and give the cyclists a bit of exercise. Win win!

    Agree (46) | Disagree (16)

    It might have something to do with numbers, cars people and cyclists don’t mix well. Does Mr Jones think it would improve matters if we abolished testing for motorists?

    Pedestrians: There should be an offence for strolling across a road where there is no crossing or lights. They get into University but lack the mental capacity needed to cross a road, too busy glaring into a smartphone or listening to drivel. You see them jay walking on country NSL roads too like they are looking for daffodils in their back garden.

    Alf Barnett, Malpas
    Agree (101) | Disagree (17)

    Whereas.. there already is a test of basic competence and highway code knowledge before we let someone behind the wheel of a motorised vehicle….despite which they continue to hit other road users, day in, day out!

    (I’m a motorist, cyclist and pedestrian at various times also.)

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (15) | Disagree (80)

    There should be a test of basic competence and highway code knowledge before you let someone loose on a bicycle. I keep meeting them on narrow roads riding 3 abreast and on bends too. It makes it difficult to overtake with a decent gap. They are some of the most selfish inconsiderate road users I come across… I cycle too an ride a motorcycle and drive a car so I see it from various perspectives.

    Remember when overtaking plan to follow and look to pass, as they are soft and fragile so we need to take care!

    Joe Peeling
    Agree (104) | Disagree (16)

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