Back in April I attended this year’s Spring National Cycle Campaigning Conference in Cheltenham. There are two national cycle campaigning conferences organised every year – spring and autumn. Each one is jointly organised by the CTC, the Cycle Campaign Network and the local cycling organisation hosting the event.
Recent conferences have been quite upbeat, with optimism about national developments such as the Integrated Transport White Paper and the National Cycling Strategy. However, disappointment over the recent Road Safety and Speed Reviews, and the sudden appearance of pots of money for more road building, all rather pervaded the atmosphere in Cheltenham. The consensus is that, although there is now a great deal of understanding about environmental and social issues around transport (which is translated into warm words and familiar vocabulary in government documents), all responsibility for tough decisions is being placed squarely on hard-pressed local authorities. ‘Joined up thinking’ is not always being translated into ‘joined up action.’
There were some bits of better news, however. The National Cycling Strategy is soon to have its own marketing strategy. Interestingly, we heard in that, in June, Sustrans is going to be changing its emphasis somewhat – from improving cycling facilities, towards improving conditions for cyclists. The National Walking Strategy has finally been launched, albeit in a shroud of secrecy. And later this year, there is likely to be new government guidance on the provision of shared use paths, which may raise the standard of cycle provision somewhat.