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Is throwing money at cycling the best way to improve cycling participation?

In responding to the recent ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APCG), the government recently announced an additional £94m investment to promote cycling in cities and national parks across the UK.

At Clearview Traffic, we’d comment that whilst this is good news for the eight cities and four national parks – and the pockets of the public that this funding from the Cycling Ambition Grant will impact – this hardly reflects a sweeping nationwide strategy and it seems more like a token gesture that’s paying lip service to the report, with the grants aimed at appeasing the cycling lobby…but failing.

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No clear strategy

The Press and cycling campaigners were quick to focus on what the announcement didn’t offer.

In reality, the announcement fell short of what’s been called for, with no commitment to any future spend beyond 2015. Whitehall were further criticised for refusing a dedicated national cycling champion or leadership, such as strong role candidates including Dr Julien Huppert MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, or the outspoken supporter of cycling, Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Frustratingly, Whitehall also refused to set any long-term targets to focus on improving cycling participation at a local level – declaring that it’s down to local authorities to determine their own priorities.

Is the government learning from previous mistakes on target setting? Is it a smokescreen to deflect away from the fact there’s no long-term strategy? Or is it a genuine move to devolve more power to local authorities?

Shaping the long-term view

At least this investment will help to establish the real business case viability of our cycling ambition and demonstrate the clear health, environmental and associated benefits cycling can offer.

However, only sustained and long-term investment, as demonstrated by the Dutch model which has taken 50 years to evolve, will make a real impact.

Let’s hope that the work in these eight UK cities and four national parks, along with the superb work already evident in London and other areas, will provide us with a blueprint for best-practice that future administrations can adopt.

To take a closer look at some of our involvement in road safety solutions across the UK, please see our recent blog post here.

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