Cycling gets £94m push in England


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

Related Stories

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


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    Oxford plans to spend £800,000 making a roundabout narrower. Cyclists will love being squeezed into an even smaller space with the buses and cars! Motorists will love being held up by cyclists that there isn't room to pass! Or is the idea to force cyclists onto a shared footpath where they have to dodge pedestrians and give way to traffic joining and leaving the roundabout at every single road?

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    £94m could be better spent than on cycling, like feeding our elderly or tending our sick.

    We have a few cycle paths around Bedford yet cyclists persist in using the road putting themselves at risk and impeding traffic flow, why ? There are also cycle lanes through the town, never seen anyone using them complete waste of public money.

    Then there is the blatant ignoring of red lights etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    @ 662. MemoryisRAM

    "So really all this just boils down to the fact that cyclists and motorcyclists don't have to sit in queues. Seriously, get over it and put the toys back in the pram."

    What this has boiled down to is you wishing to turn a reasoned discussion into diatribe. Enjoy your posting or is it trolling?

  • Comment number 668.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    ...roads .... were made for horse and carts, so they are the only ones that have 'the right' to be there

    So by your rationale computers shouldn't be used for the internet and sky should only be used by birds?

    THE OED definition:
    the part of a road intended for vehicles, especially in contrast to a verge or pavement.

    No mention of horse and cart?

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    Forgetting the politics for a moment, all I know is that...

    cycling saves me £4,000 pa,
    saving enough to just work a 4 day week,
    allowing me to shop for bargains and have an allotment,
    saving enough to now work a 3 day week.

    I'm happier, have a better social and family life, I'm less of a burden to the NHS, in fact helping society in many ways. And I'm probably going to live a lot longer too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    I'm doing 20, your doing 5, i'm sorry if "queue jumping" upsets you, but just look at the grin on my face as I go past and ask yourself if I care ;)

    I did say "Unless the traffic is virtually stationery" and if you're doing 20 in that situation you are "nuts", I'd have more respect if you said "10", just confirms you're one of the minority that gives all bikers a bad name.

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    "Seems a lot of people forget roads were around before cars even existed. They were made for horse and carts, so they are the only ones that have 'the right' to be there"

    Somewhat reminiscent of the argument made by both the Palestinians and the Jews for having exclusive rights to the land of Israel. Only much more serious, obviously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.

    650. nagivatorjan
    From my perspective as a cyclist most other cyclists obey the rules and take the dangers of the road seriously enough not to wear headphones. The majority of car drivers, on the other hand, seem to drive without due care. But I know that this isn't true, only apparent from my view as a cyclist. Neither your, nor my, prejudiced views reflect the truth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.


    So really all this just boils down to the fact that cyclists and motorcyclists don't have to sit in queues.

    You choose to queue by driving a car, I choose not to by riding a bike.
    When I drive (80% of the time) I accept that I have to queue and i'm careful to make sure i'm not obstructing bikes.

    Seriously, get over it and put the toys back in the pram.

  • rate this

    Comment number 661.

    The environmental argument is more complicated than it seems. Cycling burns calories. Depending on the type of food you eat there may be a significant carbon footprint associated with the extra food you consume to give you the energy to cycle. It is probably greener for a meat eater to take the bus than to cycle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.


    Sums up most motorists view point perfectly to, One cyclist upsets you and then tard them all with the same brush. I don't jump red lights and only undertake when traffic is at a stop, if not I crawl along at similar speeds until the driver makes a noticeable move over to let me through

    There are good riders, and good drivers, but unfortunately the bad ones are the ones that get remembered

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    As someone who cycles for leisure and to commute I welcome the investment.

    However there are a number of cyclists that lack respect for pedestrians and other road users. As they seem unable to educate themselves, it’s time for mandatory licensing and insurance with the revenue going to further improvements for cycling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.


    Uncontrolled Dogs + children are a big problem on cycle tracks & most UK cycle tracks have a 15mph speed limit, you're supposed to cycle on the road if you're gonna go faster than that so they're not for serious cyclists

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    @650 navigatorjan. It's called filtering through traffic and is legal for both bicycles and motorcycles, it's not undertaking. Mentioned numerous times in the highway code. So we do have a right to 'undertake'. We have to do so safely obviously while looking out for motorists not paying attention. I can dig out the rule numbers if you need them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    I'll take cyclist in towns serious when the vast majority of them learn to obey traffic lights, not be a danger to pedestrians by being on the payment and have lights on their bikes at night!

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.

    To the muppets bleating on about cyclists not paying for the roads .. Jezz give it a break.... I pay to run my cars on the road but am not in them 24/7...How many of you have got kids that my taxes are educating for little of no benefit to me? Grow up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 654.

    632. therealist
    "And here we have a typical example of a cyclist who thinks the highway code doesn't apply. Unless the traffic is virtually stationery (therefore can't "drift"), you shouldn't overtake on the inside! We overtake on the right in this country."

    Cyclists filtering is legal. You can pass on the left if the lane on the right is moving more slowly (it doesn't have to be *stationary*).

  • rate this

    Comment number 653.

    This is the best of commentary on cycling the BBC has let past it's safety nets since the Monty Python's The Cycling Tour. Which can be found here

    Now if the BBC has a problem with these videos being on youtube maybe they could put repeats of Monty Python on in the afternoon in place of bargain hunt. :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 652.

    647. MemoryisRAM
    'Actually, the highway code states "If the queue on your right is moving more slowly than you are, you may pass on the left"'
    Actually, that applies when there is more than one lane going in the same direction. It doesn't apply to cyclists sharing the same lane as cars.


Page 20 of 53


More UK stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.