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 551.

    Encouraging cycling in modern towns, or countries with low population densities might be ok, however cycling in the UK will not work without a massive investment - so many of our roads and in particular country roads and lanes do not have the space for cycle lanes and are too dangerous.
    In the UK it has come to a point where cycling is no longer compatible with the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    I cycle to work - 7 miles each way, every working day. As far as I can recall I have never run a red light, or cycled on an area designated as pedestrians only. If you are driving and are in such a hurry that the few seconds you sit behind me waiting for a safe place to pass, will cause you extreme hardship, then you really, really need to examine your time management.

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    What causes more congestion?

    The cyclist?

    Or the moron that drives about at 42mph on every single road regardless of speed limit?

    When driving, getting stuck in a 4 mile queue behind one of these idiots every morning is far more trouble to me than ANY cyclist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    £10 billion annually spent on roads.

    Hard to believe the amount of fuss spending less than 1% of that figure as a *one off* creates.

    Next time you're sat in a queue looking at the car in front consider the reason they're holding you up and not cycling is probably something to do with that attitude.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    456.Sagacity: "most cycle tracks are unusable for serious cycling/commuting because of dogs running all over them..."

    .. cyclists ("serious" or otherwise) should have use them where provided and stay off the road

    if they're unusable they can't use them by definition,
    you're a good example of a bad driver, think you have some special right to the road, you don't

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.


    "...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!!!"

    The roads are wide enough, the problem is there are far too many cars!

    But then I bet you're one of the UK's surplus motorists!!!


  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    "I hope that this initiative will take numbers of cyclists off the roads where they cost the country millions of pounds a year by holding up traffic at peak periods"
    That's funny because where I live all the traffic jams are made up of cars waiting for traffic lights or roundabouts. If more people cycle, these queues will become shorter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.


    Where i live we have thousands of motorists. The ones that really annoy me are the ones that exceed the speed limit, jump lights, drive without lights turned on and drive without insurance or a driving license.

    The worst ones are the ones that crash into cyclists and pedestrians and kill them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    Some 'free' consideration give to other road users by both cyclists and motorists would be welcome. That coupled with routine and regular road maintenance programs would be good. Strangely though in these times of severe austerity my local county council seems to have found millions to spend on resurfacing roads after years of doing nothing, not that I'm not complaining...

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    @511 Billy
    Good point well made - there are many in both 'camps' that seem to fit the profile.
    But still, the pedestrian is the tranport user at most risk - from all forms of vehiclar harm (life-threatening or not) - can any of the cycle users say they have never seen this happen? Distinct cycle paths would help this, maybe keep a few of the morons away from junctions etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    I guess though we'll be distracted from all being on 0 hour contracts working 1 hour a week if we can go out every other day and cycle round and round and round drinking bottles of specially formulated water to keep us hydrated... since we wont be able to drink the tap water due to fracking and we'll have no jobs from bankers blowing bubbles to fund their lifestyles.

    :) round and round we go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    I live in a one way street but the number of cyclist who go full pelt the wrong ways is unbelievable. Worse than that a whole family with middle class daddy taking the lead heading toward me one day. And worse than that at the bottom of the road where it joins the main road yummy mummy with a toddler of no more 18mths with no helmet on the back going the wrong way towards me. Just ****s

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    @ 501. Rodt

    "I'm sorry but is this really the right time to be spending £94,000,000 on this? we have millions of unemployed who would actually like a job; millions of children and older folk who live in poverty. Surely this money could be put to better use?"

    I think spending £94M employing people to build infrastructure is a better use of taxpayers' money than paying people to be on the dole.

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    The only thing more dangerous than a cyclist is a horse and they too should have licences, insurance and a registration plate

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    Yesterday set out on 10 mile ride and endured:

    Taxi parked on double yellow line and blocking a cycle lane forcing me into the path of other road users. The driver then had the cheek to swear at me for getting in his way!
    Cars at lights blocking the cycle lane
    Car forgetting to "give way to the right" and forcing me to stop whilst navigating a roundabout.

    All within 3 minutes of my home

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    Where I live we have quite a few cyclists. The only ones that really annoy me are those who have no working lights or anything which would allow you to see them at night - oh, and those that cycle out of roads against a red light when someone (on a green light) is making a legitimate right turn into the road.

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    The money will filter through to councils, who will spend it on PR, logos, slogans, tweets, and PowerPoint presentations. When pushed for results they will point to miles and miles of new cycles routes. These will be existing roads simply daubed with painted cycle silhouettes. Avoid councils if you want any meaningful advances

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    Lets hope some of it goes on explaining to cyclists, 1. please try not to ride three abreast on single lane country roads 2. Please take your headphones out on country roads, you know, so you can hear what's coming?? 3. slow down on country roads, hitting a tractor, land rover etc is really going to smart, strangely people work in the country, everything does not stop because you're out cycling...

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    Successive UK governments have spent a pittance on cycling infrastructure and instead listened to the aggressive bullying and vocal petrol head activists. Symbolised by the Tax Payers Alliance and other extremist organisations.

    We need to ignore the thugs and subversives and just get on with the investment in cycling infrastructure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    First I've nothing against cyclists at all, but where I do draw the line is that so many ignore others in non cycling areas such a footpaths, shopping centre walk throughs where people are walking, even when 'no cycling' signs are there. Oxford has cycle lanes all over but still they ride on the path. Fine make cycle areas but let them pay a cycling tax, keep to them and resapect otheres as well.


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