Cycling gets £94m push in England


Jenny Hill speaks to Lizzie Reather from Leeds Cycling Campaign about what the funding means to the area

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A number of English cities and national parks are to share a £94m cash injection to promote cycling.

Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich will share £77m, with four national parks getting a further £17m.

The money is to improve existing and fund new cycle routes. The government says it also wants to cut red tape to facilitate cyclist-friendly planning.

Labour said roads had become less safe for cyclists under this government.

'Riding high'

Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted to start "a cycling revolution".

"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," he said.

"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."

Funding for cycle schemes

Manchester alone will get £20m to build or improve some 30 miles of cycle paths and create new 20mph speed limit zones around the city.


£94m might sound like a decent amount of money. But how many cycle lanes does it buy you?

Actually, it's not a simple question because it depends on where they are, whether you have to redesign complex road junctions and whether it's a newly-built lane or some paint on a road.

Still, to give you some idea, four new cycling superhighways in London, stretching to about 40 miles in total, recently cost £35m.

As I understand it they were more complex and therefore more expensive than most, but still, you're looking at just under £10m each. I am told London's bike hire scheme, known as "Boris Bikes", has cost about £26m a year.

Cycling campaigners tell me the £94m is a good start, but say far more money is needed over a prolonged period of time to really spark a cycling revolution.

The national parks to benefit are the New Forest, Peak District, South Downs and Dartmoor.

Major improvements to 93 miles of cycle routes on Dartmoor are anticipated.

The government has also announced a feasibility study to look at creating a new national cycleway broadly following the route of the HS2 rail line from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

Ministers hope to emulate nationwide the popularity of cycling in London - where the number of cyclists has doubled over the past 10 years, according to one estimate.

"But pedal outside the city and the picture's very different," said BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott.

"Far more people prefer to drive, walk or catch the bus - in fact government statistics show that in 2012, just 2% of journeys in Britain were by bike."

'Continental-style Cycletopia'

Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of sustainable transport charity Sustrans, welcomed the initiative.

He said: "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.

"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."

It was sentiment shared by Prof David Cox, chairman of cycling charity CTC, who said Mr Cameron had shown "leadership".

'Wonderful news'

It is, possibly, wonderful news.

I say "possibly", because I am often left to wonder whether the people who spend money on cycling have ever actually been on a bike.

My cycling commute takes me nine miles from my home to BBC Broadcasting Centre in Newcastle, but only about four hundred yards of this journey can be made on a safe cycle path.

There is, it is true, another cycle path which would eat up about three miles of the journey, but to use it would be madness. It runs on the 70mph dual carriageway to Newcastle Airport.

There is nothing to separate the cyclist from the cars and lorries and, at four points, the cyclist is forced to cross slip roads at right angles to the fast-moving traffic. This is a cycle path only in as much as somebody at some point decided to waste our taxes on painting a series of little bicycles along its length. I have never seen a cyclist on this cycle path in 18 years.

So, please, spend this new money wisely.

"We now urge MPs of all parties to speak up for cycling in Parliament in September, calling for the funding needed to transform Britain's streets into a continental-style Cycletopia," he said.

Weekly casualties

But shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "No amount of cynical spin from David Cameron will make up for the fact that, immediately on taking office, he axed Cycle England, the Cycle Demonstration Towns scheme and the annual £60m budget to support cycling that he inherited.

"Since then he has axed targets to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads, reduced traffic enforcement, cut the THINK! awareness campaign and allowed longer HGVs.

"Only last month the prime minister set out plans for Britain's roads that failed to include a single commitment to the investment in separated cycling infrastructure that is the best way to boost cycling and make it safer."

She said Labour would, using the existing roads budget, deliver "long-term support for separated safe cycling routes and safer junctions".

"Tragically the number of cyclist deaths are now at a five-year high, reversing the progress that was starting to be made, and reports of new casualties are becoming a weekly occurrence," she said.

Winning cycle scheme bids

Area DfT Funding Local contribution Details


Greater Manchester



Funding will kick start Velocity 2025, which will, over time, create a city-wide cycle network branching out like spokes of a wheel. The funding will create 56 km of new or improved cycle paths

West Yorkshire



Cycle infrastructure improvements. New segregated Super Highway from east Leeds to Bradford City Centre with new connections in Leeds City Centre. Leeds Liverpool Canal Tow Path will be upgraded




Key features include 71 miles of new cycle routes, improvements to 59 miles of existing cycle routes, segregated cycle facilities, lower speed limits, off-road routes using canals and green spaces

West of England



New pedestrian and cycle promenade running east to west across the city following route of River Avon and terminating at Bristol Temple Meads station. Five new or improved river crossings for cyclists. The bid includes the Cribbs Causeway to Emerson’s Green trunk cycle route in the North Fringe of Bristol; and, the Seven Dials National Cycle Scheme in Bath City Centre.




Network of 7 major cycle routes across the city making the best use of existing infrastructure




New, segregated cycle paths along some of Cambridge’s most used cycle routes as well as improved cycling facilities to some of the major employment sites




At heart of Norwich's proposals is an eight mile cross-city route




Aims to make busy The Plain roundabout safer and more attractive for both cyclists and pedestrians. The scheme will reduce the width of the circulatory carriageway and improve the roundabout’s design

Peak District



Four new cycle routes




Major improvements to 93 miles of cycle ways, with a further 86 miles benefitting from smaller upgrades such as improved signage. The focus of the scheme is new family-friendly routes to and through the park.

South Downs



The scheme will focus on improving access to the National Park from major rail stations. There will also be 34 miles of new routes.

New Forest



New network of cycle docking stations, supported by a new family cycling centre adjacent to Brockenhurst station


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  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    £94m for traffic lights that can be ignored?

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I'm a Brighton resident where we've recently had 2 cycle 'speedways' constructed and had an almost citywide 20mph zone enforced. I can commend the speedways which link the south downs to the south coast route and almost the city centre, I used this yesterday for a nice bike ride up to the devils dyke. However the 20mph zone is an awful idea and has increased pollution with no increase in safety!

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The town in which I live has 'national cycle routes' through it. It consists of cycle symbols painted on B-roads which don't even have footpaths.
    I hope this money will go to genuine schemes that make cycling safer for all road and path users and not to tick boxes on the mileage of 'cycle routes'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    For those that say "cyclists don't know the rules of the road" - what do you expect when you take people out of cars and put them on bikes?

    Most drivers haven't a clue about rules, why would they suddenly acquire them when on bicycles?

    About time we started policing the roads again for the benefit of all road users.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    No "promotion" is needed.

    All we need:
    1- Safe cycle routes,
    2- A form licensing for cyclists (e.g., driving license). I'm a cyclist, and I know there are many cyclists that should not be allowed.
    3- An end to the miserable argument "Cyclists should pay road tax".
    Either clarify these idiots that bicycles do not have engines, or do please tax us just to shut them up !

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    All well and good improving this for cyclists. What about a test, licence and Road Fund licence for cyclists to pay for all of these "improvements"? help keep the idiots with headphones unable to hear traffic from cycling? Heavier fines for "I'm a cyclist and traffic lights don't apply to me" numpties?

    I don't see any Toll Cycle ways cropping up do you??

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    " in fact government statistics show that in 2012, just 2% of journeys in Britain were by bike."

    So 98% of journeys are not made by bike, but 100% of taxpayers will be funding this scheme to the tune £94 million.
    When we apparently have no money to spend, is this really a priority?

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    LOL what.

    HS2 will be paved over in 50 years anyway to widen the cycle way.

    Someone quickly call Sustrans, they might be able to pave over the track bed of HS2 before it is even laid, thus making the whole effort more sustainable and friendly to the environment, whats the point wasting money on building good track bed AND laying track when we could go straight to it being a cycle way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Interesting news, but a shame about the poor links under 'More on this story'. Where are the links to the real background to this? From where is this article sourced? I live in the Peak District and want to check that this will allow the extension of the Monsal Trail to Matlock.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    As a cyclist who cycles 36 miles each day to work and back I can only welcome the additional funding however I'd personally like to see some emphasis and money spent on cycle training at school level. The quality of some cycling I see on my commute leaves a lot to be desired. From the simplest things such as lane positioning and observations to not undertaking left turning HGVs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    A waste of money. My local council spent a fortune on cycle lanes, cycle stands and panniers for buses. The cycle lanes are a joke and dangerous and I've never seen the cycle stand in our village with a bike attached or a bus carrying a bike. If they wish to do this seriously they need to spend a lot of money segregating road and cycle traffic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    My experience of cyclists is that they are the biggest menace on the roads and pavements. No matter what political spin both major parties put on it, cyclists (and horses) and cars do not mix. Put them together, and you are asking for accidents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Quote //1. TheKingsNewClothes
    "Labour said roads had become less safe for cyclists under this government."

    This just goes to show everything that is utterly nasty about this country.//
    Perhaps this is nastier?
    No amount spin from David Cameron will make hide fact that, immediately on taking office, he axed the £60m Cycle budget
    Tragically the number of cyclist deaths are now at a five-year high

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    10.TRojandog - "......One day we will get a government that does not view the countryside as the inconvenient bit you have to drive through to get from city to city"

    Indeed - there was a time when the Tory party intrinsicly understood the shires...

    ....then they threw their lot in with the metropolitan big business leaders (most of them from over seas cities) to secure their funding...

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    The biggest danger to cylists nowadays is potholes. £94 million would be much better invested in fixing those - to avoid cyclist having to spend half their time swerving to avoid them, or being afraid of every puddle on the road because they could be hiding a massive hole.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I hope they put money aside to make Cycling Proficiency COMPULSORY. Yesterday a cyclist cut across in front of me with his headphones blaring, oblivious to my having let him out, and last week a young man nearly crashed into me head first, whilst I waited to turn right -he had not seen me. Cycling is great for fitness and the environment but cyclists often don't know the highway code.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Our roads are not capable or big enough to accommodate cyclists as well as traffic. We need to promote using public transport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Cyclists can be a pain. I would never say they should be banned though. Just calm down on the road and make allowances for an activity that keeps people healthy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Cycling during rush hour in Manchester is dangerous, They need to start fining Car Drivers AND cyclists if they break the rules. Ashton old road (From Ashton under Lyne into manchester has a Cycle lane, however It is full of pot holes, Lots of cars parked on the cycle lane blocking it and plenty of Car drivers ignoring it, hardly a good way to promote cycling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    This will only work for cyclists and motorists (who pay for the roads in the first place!) if the cycle lanes are made away from roads, and are not just more stupid lines which further clog the roads up. It would also be good if cyclists could be made to learn the rules of the road and have appropriate insurance. They can use the roads if they must, just don't get in the way of the rest of us.


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