A369 Cycle Route Road Works
Highways England has £100m for 200 cycle schemes over the next five years. Photo: CC Sam Saunders

Fund cycling through road investment strategy

Highways England’s Cycling Strategy, while rich in promise, only highlights the need to reallocate funding from the Government's Road Investment Strategy towards cycling.

Highways England (HE), the government company which operates, maintains and improves England’s motorways and major A roads, today (Friday 08 January 2016) published its Cycling Strategy, which aims to outline how their “planned roads improvements programme will provide integrated schemes which improve cycling facilities”.

The strategy document, stretching out to just four pages, establishes that HE is responsible for delivering an £15bn Road Investment Strategy (of which £11bn is to be delivered by 2020). From this £15bn, less than 1% (£100m) is ring fenced for 200 cycling schemes between now and 2021. These 200 schemes, according to the strategy will form an annual programme of work to improve cycling facilities which are separate from traffic eg new cycle crossing, cycle paths, improved signage and safety schemes. 

Ministers must now redeploy some of the £15 billion budget for strategic road network improvements, given how little has so far been earmarked for cycle spending.”

Roger Geffen MBE
Policy Director, CTC

“Highways England’s new cycling strategy runs to just four pages, and is therefore inevitably short on detail,” said Roger Geffen MBE, CTC Policy Director, commenting on the strategy. “Yet it still manages to fit in several of CTC’s suggestions, such as a promise to look at ways to improve the safety of lorries used on Highways England contracts, which is welcome.”

Geffen also highlighted the strategy’s wider aims of designing in cycle-friendliness to all schemes (including planned road maintenance work), training staff in how to ‘think bike’, working with councils and others to deliver well-joined-up cycle networks, and to maintain a dialogue with stakeholders such as CTC, as positive steps.

CTC’s main concerns however are about the delivery of quality cycle provision which requires a more funding for cycling. With only £300m earmarked exclusively for cycling over the next four years by the Chancellor in November’s Autumn Statement, the equivalent to £1.39 per head per year, funding has a long way to go to reach both the All Party Cycling Group’s recommendations and the Prime Minister’s apparent aspirations of at least £10 per head. 

“What matters though is what gets delivered on the ground – and how quickly decades of failing to create safe and convenient cycling links along or across the existing trunk and motorway network, particularly at large junctions, can be reversed,” says Geffen, “This requires significant funding, together with the design standards needed to ensure it is well spent.  

“New cycling design standards from Highways England are promised and an earlier draft appeared encouraging. However, if David Cameron’s promised ‘Cycling Revolution’ is finally to get rolling, Ministers must now redeploy some of the £15 billion budget for strategic road network improvements, given how little has so far been earmarked for cycle spending.”

SamJones