Today, the first ever legal requirement for the Government to produce a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy comes into force.
This is the equivalent of the starting gun being fired on the government’s work to fulfil its commitment to increase cycling by 2025, and forms part of the Infrastructure Act 2015 following lobbying by UK cycling bodies.
The law, which applies in England only, requires the government to set a strategy that details the objectives and the financial resources made available. During the election the Prime Minister in response to the #ChooseCycling Network said that, “we want [cycling] to be the natural choice for shorter journeys” while he also committed to funding cycling by £10 per head in support of the Vote Bike campaign led by CTC, the national cycling charity.
The recently-published Roads Investment Strategy (RIS) provides a format which the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) is likely to follow. The RIS runs from 2015-2021 and contains a strategic vision, timeline, statement of funds, infrastructure plan and performance specification.
However, funding for cycling is due to dramatically reduce from next year when the Local Sustainable Transport Fund comes to an end, leaving a gap in cycle funding until the CWIS is produced. The Government claims cycle investment for England stands at £5 per head, but without renewed commitment this will reduce to less than £2 per head, well below the promised £10 per head figure.
A comprehensive cycling and walking investment strategy, enshrined in law, would be the first genuine foothold for cycling in infrastructure planning. National Grid has welcomed the move as “tremendous for business and the health of the nation”.
Chris Boardman British Cycling’s policy adviser said:
“The government deserves praise for committing to this strategy but it’s what happens next which is the real test. Investment in cycling has slowly increased over the years but is due to run out soon. We now need to think long-term to get that level of consistency needed if we are to hit the government’s target.
“This is not new money but a reprioritisation of existing funds so that we can capture the health and economic power of cycling to transform our towns and cities. Compared to the cost of roads or HS2 cycling is peanuts, just 5% of transport spend would begin to transform the country and make cycling an integrated part of daily life.”
Jon Snow, Channel 4 Broadcaster and CTC President said:
“Not since 1888 when the cycle was classified as a carriage and legally allowed on the UK’s roads, has the Government introduced such a step change for cycling.
“To reap the full economic and societal benefits, cycling needs at least £10ph investment and national design standards to ensure this public investment is spent properly.”