This article was published in 2011, in Newsletter 95.
Cambridge Cycle Vision
By the time you read this, a major new publication by the Campaign should be ready and available on our website, Cambridge Cycle Vision. Taking further the themes in our Cycling 2020 vision document published in 2008, we review the progress made over the last three years on cycling initiatives, and publish our priorities for what should happen next. It is important that the excellent, if funding-limited, work that has been made with the Cycling Demonstration Town status is continued.
Many of the schemes we propose could, we believe, be funded by development funding. However, leveraging such funding will be much harder if the County Council fails to allocate core funding for cycling-related activity. In this regard, we wrote to Councillors a few months ago, asking them to ensure that the Cycling Officers at the County Council are retained post-April. Without these key individuals, the chances are that cycling will have a limited voice within the Council, despite it making up a quarter of the trips in the city and around 10% of trips county-wide.
Related is the news that the County Council is stopping subsidies for a number of bus services around the county. Indications are that it is seeking to replace the lost funding with its bid to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
We believe such ‘bustitution’ is not the intention of the fund and risks the County putting forward a weak bid rather than one which, if cycling-led, would stand a much stronger chance of being allocated funding. As we outline in a later article, and as our Cycle Vision report makes clear, cycling seems much more attuned to the purposes of the Fund than does the replacement of buses with rural transport schemes is, however valuable such transport schemes may be.
With these funding challenges, a problem echoed in other parts of the country, it is vital that cycling groups stick together rather than fragment into an ever-growing number of voices.
For five years, during the existence of Cycling England, the Department for Transport has had the benefit of having a single (and very sensible) voice to listen to, rather than the myriad of different and sometimes competing voices it faced before. Such disunity did not help get more money into cycling, and it certainly did nothing to give a clear voice on infrastructure quality issues.
Now that the Department for Transport has scrapped Cycling England (in our view a short-sighted and entirely politically-driven change not based on any analysis of effective delivery methods) we are back to the old ways. Yet we are now seeing more cycling groups springing up on the national stage (see my article), seemingly of the view that existing campaign groups are not doing a good enough job. This definitely runs the danger of giving those in the DfT and beyond who are not particularly pro-cycling the opportunity to say that cyclists are too disparate a group for it to be sensible to fund them.
My opinion piece (in this Newsletter) about the realities of campaigning seeks to challenge those who are critical of current groups’ efforts to say how in practice they would do a better job. Hopefully this will encourage people to recognise the difficulties that groups like our own face, and join together rather than splinter apart at a time when a united voice is needed more than ever.
Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator