This article was published in 1997, in Newsletter 11.
We learned recently that the County Council is to make cuts in its transportation budget for the next financial year, starting in April. No great surprises there, since the Government has cut cash to the Authority. Why did the Government cut funding? To pay for overspends on major road schemes, that’s why!
Highway maintenance makes up a very large proportion of the Transportation budget, so it is also no surprise that a lot of the cuts have been made there. However, what is very disappointing, at a time when the County is supposed to have policies promoting cycling and walking, is that the bulk of the cuts hit these groups hardest.
Routine preventative maintenance has been abandoned altogether for very minor roads, and well over a third of the budget for resurfacing and reconstruction of cycleways, footways and minor roads has gone. Minor roads are, of course, the ones most used by cyclists and pedestrians.
Especially disappointing is that nearly a fifth of the budget for traffic management schemes has gone. This budget has probably done more to improve conditions for cyclists than any other in the past couple of years.
Also, road safety funding has been cut by 12%, on top of big cuts this year (although some of us might argue that the approach adopted towards road safety in the County does not actually help cyclists much).
In contrast, the only maintenance cut to affect motorists is a tiny amount taken out of bridge maintenance. So all the cuts are aimed away from motor vehicles and towards cyclists and pedestrians, and the cuts were necessary in the first place only because the Government effectively raided the minor works budget to pay for major road schemes.
We lose twice over!