The National Cycling Strategy Board has been established to try to give some impetus to the Strategy. As we mentioned in Newsletter 42, it is being chaired on a voluntary basis by former transport minister Steven Norris. The Strategy was launched by Norris in 1996 with significant targets. But virtually no progress has been made towards achieving these. Alongside the Board, AEA Technology Ltd has had its contract renewed for a year to provide more marketing of the strategy and cycling in general. You can see some of what they do at the Strategy’s web site, www.nationalcyclingstrategy.org.uk .
|Cambridgeshire councillor Shona Johnstone is now a member of the National Cycling Strategy Board.|
To strengthen the marketing programme, the Minister for Transport allocated £3 million to employ a ‘regional sales team’ of cycling experts (‘the A team’). The contract to operate this also went to AEA, and appointments are being made now. One of the first is former Cycling Campaign member Paul Rosen (see box).
Particularly significant to us here in Cambridge is the appointment of Shona Johnstone, Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for transport, to the National Cycling Strategy Board. Appointments to the Board are made in a personal capacity, not ex officio. Councillor Johnstone’s appointment recognises the experience of cycling in this of all counties.
The Board has developed a plan for this year. It sees the main reasons why cycling is not increasing as:
- lack of safety
- lack of security for cycles and accessories
- poor integration with public transport.
Personally, I might quibble a bit with the fourth, and argue that the first has more to do with perceptions of lack of safety, and indeed using that as an excuse not to cycle rather than the real reason for some people.
The actions drawn from that come as no surprise: more central funding needed, disseminating good practice, cultural change among decision makers to factor cycling into decisions, and applying effectively the contribution of voluntary groups.
One topic that comes up time and again at conferences and meetings is the lack of experience and technical skill in providing for cyclists in the traffic engineering profession in general. Engineers themselves tell the Institute of Logistics and Transport that there is a distinct shortage of people with project management expertise, funding, travel behaviour and so on.
A Cycling Campaign meeting to prepare our wish-lists for the NCS Board and for Cambridgeshire County Council is on 12 August. See the Diary later in the newsletter.
Former Cycling Campaign member Paul Rosen has been appointed as one of the new Regional Co-ordinators for the National Cycling Strategy. Paul moved from Cambridge to that other great cycling city of York a year or so ago.
Among the other things he has been doing is following through on an academic study on the Cycle Friendly Employers project run here in Cambridge, now part of the Travel for Work scheme, and he has written a book (which we hope to review in the next newsletter). He is also going to be doing a project for central government evaluating cycling research that is available and how it can be used to further the National Cycling Strategy.
In his new role, it’s not yet clear which area he will cover: it depends on the other appointments which are currently being made. ‘It might even be East Anglia’, he said. He sees two main aspects to the job, though it is a new idea so it will be an evolving role.
Firstly he will be facilitating partnerships, at a very broad level. These will involve organisations from fields as diverse as health, transport consultants, voluntary groups, local authorities and so on.
Secondly he will be evaluating local authorities’ Local Transport Plans, looking at how much they reflect reality – actually seeing how what was promised has panned out on the ground.
There will shortly be a pilot project in Sheffield, a city better known for steel than for cycling, identifying some of the issues in the new role.