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 891.

    Those cyclists who insist on riding up narrow hills, however slowly, forcing queues of vehicles to form behind them, telling drivers not to be impatient: how would you react if confronted by a group of pedestrians spread out across the road walking more slowly than you could ride? You wouldn't be impatient, would you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 890.

    pathetic post, the stats show your homilies as nonsense, the main danger to pedestrians by 7600 to 29 comes from motor vehicles. 180 times more pedestrians are killed on the pavement by motor vehicles than by bikes. The number killed by cycles being roughly equivalent to the number killed by car drivers who lose control whilst taking their hands off the wheel to wave to friends

  • rate this

    Comment number 889.

    I've greatly enjoyed this debate but must go. Thanks to all. I leave you with the thought (and please feel free to challenge) that cycling is the most cost effective mode of transport ever devised. You can cycle 4 or more times further than a walker using less energy. A car uses about 30 times more energy per mile. Not sure what my point is but there it is. Happy to be eco-friendly and efficient.

  • rate this

    Comment number 888.

    This in theory is the best idea i have ever heard a BUT if you live in salford and ride salford crescent you will see a new cycle lane next to the bus lane the only problem is the bus lane is to narrow for busses so they take over the cycle lane as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 887.

    "I just cycle on the pavement".

    OK, but you risk attracting a £30 spot fine as according to the Highway Code:

    "Rule 64
    You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.
    Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129"

    Some authorities have a better approach than others:

  • rate this

    Comment number 886.

    PCMYERS said "Good news but when are cyclists going to contribute to all these improvements?"

    Cyclists pay taxes like everyone else, so they are contributing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 885.

    Money is being thrown at cyclists for spurious reasons such as 'it's fun',roads aren't for fun:'it's healthier',roads aren't gyms and nobody would jog on a busy road.
    It doesn't matter how much the rest of us object,we're ignored.It shows the rottenness and unaccountability of our self-serving politicians and public servants.It's become an obsession for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 884.

    Good news but when are cyclists going to contribute to all these improvements? Many cyclists behave very arrogantly, failing to use cycle tracks when they are there and blocking the road by riding inconsiderately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 883.

    "There is a cycle path all the way through the town"

    So many cycle paths are not suited for the needs of many cyclists. For a fit club cyclist they can be slow, circuitous and effectively useless.

    Others are not properly maintained or swept rendering them unusable.

    ... and then there are those that are so poorly designed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 882.

    Has research been done to differentiate between homo--sapien driver and homo-sapien cyclist yet?

  • rate this

    Comment number 881.

    I agree with ChrisA that recently cyclists have become a problem on the walking tracks around our village. They are not designed for cycling, but people out walking with dogs or children are forced to jump out of the way (usually into nettles at this time of year!)
    Sagacity you seem almost proud that cyclists have managed to kill 29 people, despite not being in big heavy metal boxes we call cars!

  • rate this

    Comment number 880.

    We like many other people walk to shops etc.
    Nothing is being done for the pedestrians.
    Is it not about time road safety(pavement safety) was looked at again for us.
    We have to put up with drivers who will not let us cross, bikes and pavement scooters driving at us on the pavement.
    Yelled at and things thrown from passing cars.
    We need help too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 879.

    874 ChrisA
    I agree totally. On a nearby cycle commuter route SOME cyclists can be too fast and aggressive to other users because off-road they are the top dogs and CAN be (a bit like drivers really). Believe me, I used to be one of those commuters and can look back with shame on some incidents. Just reinforces the argument for total segregation of cyclists from pedestrians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 878.

    Good news, but what about North Yorkshire and the North York Moors National Park ? There is a large area of outstanding beauty here, ideal for cycling. The whole country needs investment not just patches

  • rate this

    Comment number 877.

    Roads around before cars they not for sole use of cars. As for the old Tax nut. As with all infastructure roads are financed through Tax that we all pay; vehicle tax is a pollution levy. As with other vehicles with zero omissions no tax/levy. Most cyclists are members of organisations BC CTC where membership and licence covers insurance for Third Part and personal injury.

  • rate this

    Comment number 876.

    £94M for cycling and £1 billion for a Nigerian space rocket and its our money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 875.

    " I also wonder why all those cyclists aren't at work."

    Many cyclists find that the savings they make, by not driving, allow them to work fewer days per week. I know someone whose car costs them the equivalent of two days' earnings per week, and you can never ever get those days back, as we creep closer and closer to old age and then death.

  • rate this

    Comment number 874.

    Its a good idea but some cyclists can be rude, i usually take a walk down a footpath near where i live in which many cyclists use and because its narrow usually i have to step in bushes to allow cyclists through and that can be bothersome especially in the summer with all the insects, so to get my clothes dirty and just be ignored and not get a thanks or cheers can be very frustrating.

  • rate this

    Comment number 873.

    The solution is easy, and proven: we need roads designed to have a footway, a cycleway and a carriageway. Putting cyclists on the footway is bad for both cyclists and pedestrians, putting cyclists on the carriageway is just plain dangerous.

    We need to do what continental European countries are doing, especially the Dutch. See for the details.

  • rate this

    Comment number 872.

    Dan, I have often heard this claim that "the health benefits outweigh the risks". That is based on the absurd assumption that anyone who is not cycling is not exercising! There are many safer ways to get exercise.
    I saw a whole pack of cyclists riding through Tonbridge a few weeks ago. There is a cycle path all the way through the town and NOT ONE of them was using it! A waste of time and money.


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