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 71.

    Usual selection of ignorant comments from the petrol tribe.
    "Cyclists are dangerous to pedestrians"
    No they are not, no pedestrians were killed by any cyclist last year. The average is just under one. When it does happen the Tory rags have a field day. Drivers meanwhile kill a child every day
    "Licensing for cyclists"
    Cycling is not dangerous to cyclists or others
    "Road Tax"
    Theres No such thing

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

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

    Oh Dear Oh Dear, that's a bit desperate isn't it? I've cycled for years and I've never been aware of it's dark political side. Cycling is definitely more dangerous these days, but in my experience that is mostly down to motorists playing with phones and Satnavs, which is hardly down to politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    So Cameron is trying to steal some of Boris's thunder by putting £1 into cycling for each member of the population. Truly unimpressive!

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    There are ignorant drivers ignorant cyclists and ignorant pedestrians all to together a mix for major problems whats the answer there aint one pumping money into roads pavements or cycleways that are unused or overcrowded makes no sense until they can all move together like human beings with respect for the others reading posts on nhere no chance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    This money could have been better spent on creating jobs???
    The money is going to be paid to persons to do work on cycle paths.
    How is that not jobs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Some, indeed many, cyclists are self appointed anti-car crusaders who cant resist making a point of obstructing motorists by riding two abreast, failing to signal change of direction & ignoring traffic signs. I think they too should be subject to eyesight tests as many are obviously colour blind. I would also suggest to the authorities that time trials should be banned on public roads.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Drawing white lines on existing roads to create 'cycle lanes' is not the answer. And no more bloody signs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Sadly I think most of this money will be wasted, until we change the stupid attitude of people regarding road tax and the like. There is NO road tax in the UK, there is an Vehicle Tax which is just what it says and nothing to do with roads. The money collected goes to central funds and is used for all sorts including roads, NHS etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    We have cycle lanes on the footpaths in Colchester but I choose to use the road since I think it's too dangerous for the pedestrians. As a car owner I have paid my road tax so I don't feel bad cycling on the road.... plus my council tax goes towards the roads too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    As a lifelong cyclist I am thrilled at the new investment. Could someone please explain the source of this new funding? Is it coming from Road Tax revenues or local authority parking fine surpluses? Are cyclists paying their way in the scheme of things? In Switzerland cyclists are required to buy a Tax Disk. Maybe cyclists should contribute towards construction of cycle lanes and road signs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Don't get too excited about these proposals. We've heard it all before. The UK is "light years" behind the rest of Europe as far as cycling safety is concerned. Most local councils are very negative regarding cycling and the majority of the motoring public are anti-cyclist. We still have a long way to go!

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    £94M would be better used to build houses, giving jobs and boosting the economy. It may not be much in the UK wide scheme of things but every penny counts when we are in the state the UK is now in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Is anything going to be done to protect us humble pedestrians from rogue cyclists? My husband was nearly knocked down by a cyclist riding on the pavement who added insult to injury by hurling an expletive at him over his shoulder as he passed at top speed. Heaven help any pensioners and toddlers who get in the way of such arrogant, selfish individuals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    'Manchester alone will get £20m to build or improve some 30 miles of cycle paths'

    £1.5m per mile????? At the cost of the taxpayer for 2% (going on the national statistic) of Manchester's working population to cycle to work. Oh well, at least we aren't in a recession and the money couldn't have been spent on creating new jobs.....oh wait a minute!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    I got legs,
    Made for walking
    But someones talking
    I got ears,
    Made for hearing
    But no ones walking
    I got horses,
    Made for riding
    But instead i'm driving

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Apparently all cyclists are a menace reading this thread. Of course being fat/obese will not make you a future drain on the health service (and ergo all tax-payers) at all will it....? If just a few more people took the time to think about this and real investment was made, we could make a real difference in this country. Fatness is a huge problem, incentives to stay fit might just help......

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I used to cycle 19 miles into Leeds using the main cycle track along the canal from the East.

    It was an 'assault course' as I had to dismount 21 times to lift my bike through and over A-gates, kissing gates, styles, a steep set of steps and other impedimentia put there by the council (I complained to no avail) to deter motorcyclists.

    It was tough and I never saw one woman cyclist on the path.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Want to get people cycling?
    Stop these misguided road designers from narrowing all the damn roads and installing pinch points to "slow down cars and make it safer for cyclists". It just creates friction between drivers and cyclists.

    The safest thing for cyclists is a nice wide road, with cars passing by without having to slow down. NOT enraging drivers by putting cyclists in their way!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    1) All cyclists should be banned from roads with a speed limit of more than 30 mph unless there is a physical demarcation zone.
    2) If a cyclist is hit in one of these zones then the assumption should be its the car drivers fault (if outside its the cyclists fault)
    3) If a cyclist hits a pedestrian then the assumption should be its the cyclists fault.


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