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 351.

    Yet again Mike your grasp of the reason behind insurance is tenous at best. Insurance is there to cover you against loss, if you got into an accident on your bike that wrecked it that involved another cyclist, would you just accept the loss and buy a new bike? Would you demand the other cyclist pay for the bike if they were at fault? If you cause damage is it not your responsibility?

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.


    Hey guys, I'm one of those annoying cyclists who use the sidewalk and run red lights and no one can do anything about it. You see that's the beauty of being a cyclist!

    You are the kind of idiot motorists and pedestrians hate, causing a generakl intollerence in both groups of cyclists in general you pillock!

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    This is much needed. The population has been pushed to walk and cycle where possible, leaving the car at home. But outside of London and traffic light junctions, the roads are the same as car friendly as it used to be.

    The result is you get cyclists causing tailbacks by cycling on narrow roads without a care in the world. You get idiot cyclists just like you get idiot drivers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    Investing in cycling lanes is not enough.
    The fact is, many junctions are dangerous for cyclists.
    Pavement railings at the corners of crossroads cause crushing fatalities to many cyclists as they get passed by HGV's and buses.
    A lot of our road networks need to be better thought out to ensure safety for cyclists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    If we are going to charge cyclists road tax then we also need to charge pedestrians road tax and insurance. I have never hear before such a ridiculous and bad faith argument. In terms of rubbish and vindictive nonsense it just takes the biscuit. grow up!

    The money spent on roads is so they can be used by cars NOT bikes. You barely need more than a dirt track for a bike. Try a car down one!

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    Its all great, but cycle paths always end up becoming joggers and dog walkers paths who wonder around aimlessly sided to side generally with headphones in so they can't hear bells or calls. I actually feel safer cycling on the roads where although dangerous, its at least more predictable.

    The problem with cycle paths on the roads is no cars drive through them so all the crap just sits in them

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    @ 335.Mike

    "Great, so all cyclists, including a family of 5 have to have insurance for all their bikes in case they hit a car. That's going to work isn't it."

    Erm... how else do you think it would work? If you've got 5 cars I'd expect you to insure all 5.

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    @Tom Dundee, I think you'll find that what you pay is vehicle excise duty rather than road tax. That's why only motorists pay it. Income Tax, National Insurance, VAT, Council Tax, excise duties, they all go into the same Treasury pot, to benefit everyone. But if vehicle tax gives motorists priority, do those who pay more for their tax disc own more of the road?

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    'She (Maria Eagle) said Labour would, using the existing roads budget, deliver "long-term support for separated safe cycling...". '
    Hypocrite! During its 13yrs in government, Labour did nothing to help cyclists.

    Absolutely! They did a lot to help fake charities like Sustrans though. They put up little red signs indicating "Route 66" all over the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    318 Todd Sweeney - Again, you're just defending the indefensible and now setting up some sort of victimisation angle. I'm not labelling all cyclists as you falsely claim, but those who both wear all black & don't use any lights in the dead of winter are clearly idiots. Why are you arguing against that? Do you seriously think it's a good idea?

    What a bizarre (yet worryingly common) mentality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    Put bikes anywhere you like, but don't put them on the roads. It's just too dangerous. They don't mix.

  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    317. stan lee
    My wife, who is an extremely sensible cyclist, wears visible clothing (and bag) and has some of the best lights money can buy, was hospitalised by a hit-and-run. The driver wasn't caught, all drivers should therefore pay a 'hit-and-run tax'. Or, we could just stop tarring everyone with the same brush.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    @317 "Its time that cyclist should have some form of road tax and insurance"

    They can't get 60% of Bradford to tax/insure their cars, so who's going to Police cyclists?

    Think before typing.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    As both a Cyclist and A motorist I understand both Sides of the Story when it comes to people's veiws on both sides. Personly I think anything that Serperates Drivers, Cyclists and Padestrans is a good thing as they all have serpate requirements.

  • Comment number 337.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    Just been on holiday to the canaries. They have dedicated cycle roads running parralell to the main roads - excellent idea and works well, keeping everyone happy.

    The build quality of a cycle path requires much less investment than a road designed for Cars, Busses and HGVs alike.

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.


    Great, so all cyclists, including a family of 5 have to have insurance for all their bikes in case they hit a car. That's going to work isn't it.

    Interesting lobby that one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

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

    A British Olympics isn't enough obviously. But Dave gives the nod, and oh my, a revolution is started. I'd like to write four letters beginning in T and ending in T with a W and A in the middle, but I'm not allowed to insult our dear leader.

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    Why do so many car drivers keep referring to 'car tax' - it does not exist - it is called 'vehicle excise duty', a general non specific tax for the use of motorised machinery on the public highway. It does not grant you a right to use the highway as this can be revoked simply by not having a driving license, no insurance, poor eyesight, or using drugs or alcohol. All very common by the way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    165. bored23
    "Bikes do not pay anything yet get given heaps of cash for cycle paths etc, whilst the roads get worse."

    So because I own a bike, I don't have to pay any tax? I must get a refund on all that income tax, council tax, VAT and VED I've paid for the last 20 years! Many motorists don't pay VED. Your arguments are fallacious.


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