A new priority for investing public funds

There are 3 of the 18 recommendations that are grouped under this topic (click on links for the background and official Government response to each).

Introduction

Whether by helping people get to workplaces, reducing the phenomenal cost of physical inactivity to the health service or alleviating the strain on local public transport, our economy is boosted every time a journey is made by bike.

Dutch cities reap massive economic benefits because of a consistently high level of investment for several decades (now £24 per person per year). Although London now plans to spend £14, Scotland is up to £4 and other cities are increasingly following, England outside the capital still spends less than £2 per head; far too low to seriously increase cycling levels. Investment now would help government realise the full financial potential that cycling can deliver.

It is essential that the patterns of spending on cycling should be seen as mainstream commitments, with long term continuity rather than temporary ‘initiatives’. While these are welcome, they should be in addition to a much larger sustained base of funding, not in place of it.

Many of the improvements that would benefit cyclists, such as improvements to road quality, creation of segregated cycle tracks and junction changes, will also benefit pedestrians and other road users. They should therefore form part of planned highway maintenance programmes.

Money is needed for both capital and revenue budgets. Creating cycle friendly roads, junctions and cycle facilities will require significant capital spending over many years. In the meantime though, some well-targeted revenue funding for cycle training and other ‘smarter choices’ measures could help kick-start the process of Getting Britain Cycling with some highly cost-effective ‘quick wins’.

Recommendations

1 » Create a cycling budget of at least £10 per person per year, increasing to £20

2 » Ensure local and national bodies, such as the Highways Agency, Department for Transport, and local government allocate funds to cycling of at least the local proportion of journeys done by bike.

3 » Cycle spending that makes a tangible contribution to other government departments, such as Health, Education, Sport and Business, should be funded from those budgets, not just the DfT.

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