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APPCG enquiry into the Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy

24th May 2016

Houses of Parliament, London

The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) held an enquiry into the government's Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) yesterday afternoon, on the day the public consultation closed. Minister with responsibility for cycling, Robert Goodwill, gave evidence.

It appears from the APPCG's Twitter feed that Mr Goodwill didn't have anything new or helpful to say. He claimed that this government had tripled cycling spending from £2 per head to £7 - but the cycling campaign organisations disagree, so presumably this is either looking back to what was spent under the Coalition, or taking credit for cycle spending in London by TfL and the London Mayor. When challenged about the £300m which has been allocated to cycling, he responded that there's never enough funding for any project and more money is always wanted. (This is classic Goodwill - ignore the specific question, and make an excuse based on a general platitude).

Mr Goodwill said that he has no empirical evidence for the targets which have been set. [Presumably, how to achieve them.] He disowned responsibility for cycling, saying that budgets are devolved to local authorities, and it is up to them if they wish to promote cycling. He claimed that the government can't control safety or the perception of safety of cycling, and blamed the media for coverage of cycling fatalities.

Asked by Ruth Cadbury MP why some of the £15bn roads budget can't be reallocated to cycling, Mr Goodwill suggested that cycling would benefit [indirectly] from the money. He was asked by Fabian Hamilton about the German model, where 2p per litre on fuel is hypothecated for cycling. Could some of the sugary drinks tax be spent on cycling? Mr Goodwill's response was that he wasn't in favour of hypothecation, as tax take can go down as well as up, but he wanted to hear what the APPCG thinks about it.

Mr Goodwill claimed that we are 'on a par' with other countries in Europe in respect of cycle funding, but when asked to be more specific, he was unable to say which countries. 

He was asked about national design standards for cycle infrastructure, but he is not in favour, and said that cycling will continue to be part of wider transport guidance.

In advance of the evidence session, Sustrans, British Cycling, and Cycling UK published articles about cycling investment.

Sustrans

In an article for Sustrans, Jason Torrance wrote that the CWIS should have been an opportunity to ensure long-term funding for cycling, but the strategy which has been published 'widens the gap between large-scale, long-term investment in road/rail and small-scale, short-term investment in cycling/walking [and] fails to provide a coherent plan for how the Government's ambition and target will be met and funded...'

Planned cycling investment is tiny compared with the roads budget, and it's less even than the amount being spent on a 17-mile stretch of the A46, as illustrated by this graphic:

Cycling is due to receive £1.35 per head per year between 2016 and 2021, compared with £10 pledged by the government in its manifesto, and £17.35 which would be needed to achieve the government's targets. The figures are illustrated in this Sustrans graphic:

An investment of £17.35 per head per year would be 10% of the transport budget, and amount to £8.2bn - but would create an economic benefit of £61bn.

An ICM poll for Sustrans showed 75% support for spending on cycle infrastructure.

British Cycling

British Cycling yesterday reported on a letter from its #ChooseCycling network to Transport Secretary Patick McLoughlin, pointing out that the CWIS represents a huge opportunity to transform levels of cycling and walking. The article on British Cycling's website quotes Chris Boardman: 'If I were presenting the government's cycling investment strategy as a workable proposal for any of the businesses in the #ChooseCycling network, I would be laughed out of the room. It is simply not possible to make cycling the 'natural choice' for short journeys by investing less than £1 per head - less than the cost of a cup of coffee. As the government run the country, I'd hope they know this.'

Cycling UK

Cycling UK focussed on the funding for the CWIS, pointing out that funding is set to fall to 72p per head in England, excluding London, by 2021, compared to £86 per head for motorways and highways. Their #morethanmilk campaign compares the cycling funding to the price of milk, and the roads funding to a magnum of champagne.

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