Cycling Moves Up UK Funding’s Ladder
LONDON, UK – The UK’s Infrastructure Act 2015, recently became law, meaning future governments will be legally required to produce a national ‘cycling and walking investment strategy’ or CWIS.
The obligation to produce a CWIS is potentially very important; cycling is recognised for the first time as something that requires national investment on the same level as the most important infrastructure projects such as major roads and high speed rail.
The success seems to have surprised some in the UK cycling world, especially as back in 2010 the current Conservative government axed the national body for cycling policy, Cycling England. CWIS had few self-declared supporters at Westminster at the start of the legislation’s progress but rapidly picked up MPs’ backing.
Cycling’s current funding
Perhaps the upwardly revised price tag of GBP 22 billion (€ 30bn) for the forthcoming HS1 Birmingham-London rail link and talk of massive new investment in roads made the current funding of cycling – done on a largely discretionary basis – seem increasingly unjust and illogical.
As roads minister Robert Goodwill stated, “It would be ironic to have a road investment strategy without having a walking and cycling strategy alongside it. That case was made by cyclists here in the House and beyond, and it is a persuasive one.”
Annual amount of funding
However the bill does not quantify how much annual cycle spend will be; that will be down to the government of the day. Not only does the annual amount of funding remain in the dark, the potential quality of cycling infrastructure is now coming under the spotlight. Cycling lobbying bodies such as Cycling Tourists Club and Sustrans will no doubt be pressing for cycle-friendly design standards based on best practice from countries like the Netherlands.
The national government it seems is running to catch up with some city authorities. For example London recently committed GBP 913 (€ 1.3bn) million to a major new cross-town segregated bike lane, partly a response to the London Cycling Campaign’s ‘Love London, Go Dutch’ crusade that included mass rallies.