PEDALLER

I am cross.

The UK government this week made announcements about its spending plan and investment in transport infrastructure.

This is also the day, one year ago, that the Olympic rings were made visible on London’s Tower Bridge. The motto for the Games was “Inspire a generation”. Much of that inspiration came from the superb results the cycling athletes obtained – lots of us ‘normal’ people started getting back on bicycles, some for sport but many just to get down to the shops, to work, or over to a friend’s house. With the 20mph speed limit being rolled out, more people felt safer getting out on the roads, too.

Then today.

LEGACY?

First there was the report that serious injuries and deaths on Britain’s roads during 2012 declined – if you were travelling in a car when a crash happened; but things actually got worse in 2012 if you were on a bicycle or out walking: Even though cycle use increased, the rate of crashes leading to death or serious injuries increased faster. See HERE. London’s roads were equally scary in 2012 – see HERE.

That was cause for concern. (Aside: also today, the young woman driver who tweeted about #BloodyCyclists after knocking one off his bicycle, has been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service – see HERE.)

But then, I got cross: the government’s spending review and infrastructure announcements today made no reference WHATSOEVER to bicycles or walking. The 82-page government document on national infrastructure has 33 pages mentioning roads but not once is there a mention of cycling.

BLACKEST GOVERNMENT EVER

This is the “Greenest Government Ever”?

With all the new pavement that is promised to go down, to say nothing of the UK’s increasing reliance on coal, this is more like the “Blackest Government Ever”.

The coalition (Conservative / Liberal Democrats) government only referred to cars; and needing to widen or build new roads for them (and spend even more mega-billions on a high speed rail line).

There’s a saying (attributed to Lewis Mumford, a US city expert): “widening roads to cure congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.”

Secondly, many people who want to #GetBritainCycling were looking forward to a the official launch of an “Office for Active Travel”. It was to work at getting people out of cars and onto their feet to walk or moving their legs to pedal a bicycle. This couldn’t happen soon enough, as there is an obesity epidemic in Britain…and tackling it would save £1,600,000,000 on the NHS budget.

Yes, I was cross.

WRITE TO MP

So, a tweet I wrote,

Remember today as day when people in UK got really cross, like years ago in Netherlands…
http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2011/01/stop-child-murder.html

That got retweeted a few times by people with thousands of followers. A start.

And then I wrote to my MP, the ‘bicycling baronet’ Sir George Young to ask why he and the Pedalling Prime Minister ignored bicycles…

How can I get across how utterly cross I am with this ‘Greenest Government Ever’ for ignoring the increasing numbers of people cycling – including my children who were inspired by the Olympics?

His response was:

Cycling was mentioned extensively in today’s Transport questions

Mentioned? Talk? What I hear was that debate had some MPs mentioning cycle sport – hardly the kind of thing that Gets Britain Cycling. (Danny Alexander MP: “I dare say that some of that money could be used to ensure that the Tour de France passes off [in North Yorkshire] without pothole-caused incidents.”). Update: there was a bit more in a separate, short debate — see HERE.

So I wrote back:

Show me the money.

There were billions announced for people that drive a car (I do that too, by the way) but nothing, NOTHING funded specifically to Get Britain Cycling.

I followed up with Sir George later in the day by passing along references to the many other people who had been made cross by the Government’s announcement and the terrible safety statistics. I share them here with you, below.

May I ask you do to something? Please write to your MP, too.

Then read, and sign, the Get Britain Cycling ePetition HERE.

CHAIN REACTION

1. Campaign for Better Transport: Government infrastructure plans – Response

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport said, “The Government’s £28 billion of road-building plans are a colossal transport policy error. Particularly worrying is the new aim of dualling a large proportion of the Highways Agency network, to look again at environmentally disastrous schemes around Stonehenge and along the south coast, and the decision to end any guaranteed funding for green transport outside London.”

2. Cyclists in the City: Safety

So what should happen on the very same day that the government publishes appalling casualty trends?

The government has announced an multi-decade investment plan for UK infrastructure that is entirely about improving capacity for private motor transport only (bye bye bus subsidies). In the entire 82 page document on national infrastructure released today, the government spends 33 pages talking about investment in roads. There is not a single mention of cycling anywhere in the national infrastructure strategy.

3. Campaign for Better Transport: National rally against road-building Saturday 13 July 2013 at Crowhurst, East Sussex

Organised by the Roads to Nowhere campaign, the Hastings Alliance and the Combe Haven Defenders. Supported by Greenpeace, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), CPRE Sussex, BLINKRR – Bexhill Link Road Resistance, Crowhurst Road to Nowhere Action Group, Friends of the Earth, the Wildlife Trusts and RSPB.

4. BikeBiz: Government pledges to build more motorways, ditches active travel plan

On the plus side [the Government] has also pledged to spend more cash on repairing existing roads but very much on the minus side there was nothing in Alexander’s speech about walking and cycling. In fact, his speech was more reminiscent of the ‘Roads For Prosperity’ era, when, in 1989, Margaret Thatcher said her Government would commence on the “largest road building program for the UK since the Romans.” Widespread road protests led to many of the schemes contained within ‘Roads to Prosperity’ being abandoned. Many of these same schemes – so-called “zombie roads” – have now been brought back to life by Alexander.

5. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents:

Tweeted by @RoSPA: “we think routes along rivers and canals will help but a cycle network must include safer roads!”

6. CTC urges Cameron to Get Britain Cycling after Treasury fails to do so

CTC is calling on David Cameron to ‘Get Britain Cycling’ after statements today and yesterday by the Chancellor and his Chief Secretary included billions for increased capacity on trunk roads and motorways, but failed to identify any earmarked funding for cycling.

7. Sustrans: There’s no good, just bad and downright ugly

It was very disappointing to see that there was no mention of walking or cycling in Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander’s, Investing in Britain’s future announcement today. We need to see more options for people to walk, cycle and use public transport rather than encouraging car use. But what really struck a chord was the awful news in the Reported road casualties report that cyclists are still dying on our roads.

8. Cycling Embassy of Great Britain: Reaction to the Comprehensive Spending Review

We are disappointed that at a time when, more than ever, people are crying out for a cheap and easy means of making their everyday local journeys, the government are instead borrowing billions in order to throw money at impressive-sounding mega-projects that do little to help ordinary people get to work or school or the shops.

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