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 1051.


    Noise pollution 3.1bn
    Air pollution 20.2bn
    Water pollution 16bn
    Business losses thru congestion 19bn
    Road maintenance 8bn
    New roads 12bn
    NHS (accidents) 18bn

    Plus health, crime, plus the cost of cars themselves...
    The costs are endless.
    But on the other hand....

    Annual investment required to create and maintain a world class national cycle network, similar to the Dutch - 1 bn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1050.

    It's a sad that the mjority of the 94M will probably be spent on free lunches, dinners, away-days for sycophantic councillors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1049.


    So you claim around 17% of the NHS Budget (£109B) goes on road accidents.. that we are subsidised by around £2,000 per person - where do you get your figures?

    In addition to my figures in #1045, there is the benefit to the economy on cars sales, accessory and parts sales etc. (around £32B pa). Then lets not forget the revenue from Parking Tickets, Parking Charges etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 1048.

    Hey, BBC people! If you read this could you PLEASE ensure that any cycle related piece in future includes an explanation about a cyclist's "right to cycle" on roads differs from a driver's "license to drive", some relevant info from the Highway Code, and a brief explanation of VED. Thankyou.
    That is all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1047.

    Good news, less pollution. But alongside this the need t EDUCATE drivers to respect cyclists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1046.

    Unfortunately the attitude of many cyclists was portrayed by the one interviewed on TV before the start of the London-Surrey ride a week ago: "I quite like the idea of upsetting all the Surrey residents with the road closures".

  • rate this

    Comment number 1045.

    To end the dispute on Taxes etc. the facts are: Fuel Duty £26.9B, VAT on Fuel, £9.9B, VED £6.0B, VAT on Car Sales £8.5B, Company Car Tax £3.7B, Insurance Premium Tax £2.9B = £58 Billion

    Total Government Spending on Maintenance & Network Improvements just £7.7B

    Then of course if we don't have roads, the loss to the economy is incalcuable

  • rate this

    Comment number 1044.

    "VED from drivers represented £5.63 Billion"

    I'm afraid drivers don't even get close to paying their way.
    The NHS bill for vehicle related accidents is over 18 billion alone. It's generally estimated that each UK driver is subsidised by the rest of us to the tune of £2,000 as year.
    So let's stop all this "I pay road tax and cyclists don't" nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1043.

    @1042 - did you not read the post below? VED is not hypothecated. It matters not how much it 'raised' - it is not necessarily spent on the roads. You surmise that cyclists only pay council tax, forgetting all the other taxes that we all pay. You also fail to internalise any externalities when considering what VED raises - in other words, you've not considered the cost of motoring to the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1042.

    @967 Tony

    Actually, VED from drivers represented £5.63 Billion (2009 Figure), therefore Drivers contribute excessive amounts of money towards any road building/maintenance projects when you also add on the revenue from Petrol/Diesel Excise Duty...

    Cyclists just paying Council Tax don't even pay enough to keep the councils running, which is why the GOVERNMENT has to hand over more money..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1041.

    Those drivers who say 'we pay road tax and cyclists don't, therefore we have more right to the road!' need to look up a little word in the dictionary.

    That word is 'hypothecated'.

    The tax you pay to drive around in your car? It's not 'hypothecated' - the revenue raised is not dedicated for a particular expenditure.

    You no more 'pay for the roads' than the cyclists do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1040.

    "motorists to be forced onto longer, more circuitous and more expensive routes"

    That's exactly how it works in many Dutch towns - every journey made slightly longer by car. But far from causing extra pollution, it results in most drivers getting on their bikes.

    Bikes in town are normally best, but most motorists just need a little "gentle encouragement".

  • rate this

    Comment number 1039.

    @938, and others: so all the cyclists here deploring the pollution caused by motorists would prefer motorists to be forced onto longer, more circuitous and more expensive routes so that the smug cyclists can have the most direct, unimpeded routes to wherever they want to go, with RoW @ all junctions? Why not ban all motor vehicles, then who takes you to hospital?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1038.

    I live on the edge of the Forest of Dean, in the largest town in the area. 15 years ago, a network of cycle paths was laid around the Forest to encourage tourism. You can't actually cycle there safely from my town though, because there isn't a connecting cycle path - and the one level road into the heart of the Forest is hazardous. Amount of money we've received to remedy this? £0.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1037.

    And don't even mention riding two abreast on narrow country lanes. No respect for the highway code or other road users

    perfectly legal but they should move to single file to allow traffic to pass when its safe to do so. I find its pairs of men who have taken up cycling to get fit & ride like they drive, selfishly, who tend to do this

  • rate this

    Comment number 1036.

    How about the government issue a free bicycle voucher to anyone that
    wants one, say for about £300.00. If eveyone had a free one, nobody
    would have a need to go out and nick one? Save a fourtune in police
    time trying to do an impossible task of trying to find who nicked it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1035.

    Much that staring at some lycra-clad bum in front of me from my slowly moving car as the latest Lance Armstrong wannabee toils up the hill saddens me, when I rode my bike on the cycle paths in Brighton last week I nearly crashed into three pedestrians, including nearly killing an unsupervised toddler. A friend was once knocked off by a pedestrian and her collar bone was badly shattered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1034.

    If the government want to encourage cycling on a massive scale, and want to do it quickly and cheaply, there is a simple solution.

    Bollards halfway down every country lane in the UK, where there is an alternative main road.

    Simple, cheap and extremely effective.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1033.

    @ 131. bored23
    "The day cyclists pay road tax and dont think they 'own' the road because they feel they are doing good for the planet etc, is the day ill respect them on the roads a little more!"

    News for you, most cyclists are drivers too, so they do pay tax and contribute. So lets be having with that respect now please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1032.

    Personally I would prefer to see improvements made to roads to help cyclists stay safe and help motorists avoid collisions. Dedicated cycle tracks are hugely expensive invariably end up being shared use with pedestrians and there is no statutory obligation to keep them maintained and they end up full of broken glass and rubbish.


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