This article was published in 2019, in Magazine 144.
Lack of investment means government will fail to reach cycling and walking targets
In July, the House of Commons Transport Committee, of which Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner is a member, published its review of the government’s progress on its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. The Committee found that the (unambitious) targets for increased levels of cycling and walking set by the Department for Transport a few years ago are unlikely to be met. It said that ‘for too long walking and cycling have not been a priority for policymakers’, and gave an example of the lack of commitment to genuine investment for active travel: the government had described its strategy as a £2bn plan for active travel, but only £300m was actually ring-fenced for walking and cycling schemes.
National charity Cycling UK highlighted the fact that increasing levels of cycling in line with the government-set targets (from under 2% of trips in 2016 to 3.5% of trips by 2025) would mean Dutch levels of cycling would not be achieved until the start of the 23rd century. England is trailing far behind other countries’ rates of cycling: 26% of journeys are cycled in the Netherlands, 18% in Denmark, and 10% in Germany. With a new prime minister and cabinet, Cycling UK is encouraging people to write to the transport team and their local MP to call for the ring-fenced funding their local authorities need to achieve the national targets for walking and cycling.
Join the campaign calling for more investment at tinyurl.com/activetravelfunding
Three London healthy street schemes pulled in six weeks
Following on from vocal opposition from taxi drivers and others to the East-West Cycle Superhighway CS3, several London schemes have been scrapped or ‘paused’ this summer after aggressive campaigns from angry residents. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea vetoed a scheme for safer cycling and walking in the area part-way through the consultation phase. Guardian journalist Peter Walker pointed out that only 0.6% of residents had objected to the changes. Meanwhile, a trial of a ‘filtered permeability’ scheme in Tower Hamlets was ended after one day and a similar scheme in Newham lasted just one hour!
New Cycle to Work guidance makes e-bikes easier to buy
On 9 June, the Department for Transport published revised guidance on the Cycle to Work scheme which makes it easier for employers to provide cycles and equipment worth over £1,000 to employees. This will make it easier for people to purchase e-bikes for their cycle commute.
E-bikes boost cyclists’ speed up to 15.5mph in the UK. They are particularly useful for older people, those with mobility issues and people making long commutes. Cycling to work improves air quality, reduces carbon emissions and saves employees money. Evans Cycles surveyed 2,000 commuters and found that by switching from car, bus, tube and train to e-bikes, they could save an average of £7,791 over five years.
More than a million e-bikes were sold in the Netherlands last year, compared with just 70,000 in the UK. The Government hopes this new guidance will help more people switch to cycling for their journey to work.
Find out more about the updated scheme at tinyurl.com/cycletoworkguidance