Eagle eyed observers of the Department for Transport’s website would have noticed yesterday the publication of five documents on the page relating to cycling.
Tucked amongst these was the Government’s response to the consultation on the draft Cycling Delivery Plan. Some might suggest this was a sly tactic from Government, akin to what was attempted on the Speaker of the House of Commons, by rushing through a response at the last moment hoping it would not be noticed.
The lack of a press launch and its timing before the end of parliament certainly lend itself to such a theory. There are points in the Government’s response which would merit hiding in such a fashion and are disappointing, such as their airbrushing out of CTC’s concerns over the low cycling target or their position “that the adoption of a signal national cycling infrastructure design standard is the best way forward for England”.
The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy has been a massive game changer."
However, it is worth bearing in mind cycling’s current situation in Whitehall. In the space of one week this January, the Government’s cycling strategy has been sent in hitherto unforeseen direction from that laid out in the draft Cycling Delivery Plan back in October 2014.
This dramatic shift was very much down to public engagement, which saw nearly 6,000 CTC members and supporters write to their MPs daring them to dream and place cycling on a similar par of importance to road and rail.
Set in this light, the Cycling Delivery Plan has been sidelined. Following the end of the consultation period for the plan in November, campaigners recognised the opportunities as presented by the then Infrastructure Bill as the best way to secure dedicated and legally binding funding for cycling. Our collective success has forced a rethink for central Government.
Taking this into consideration, while consultation for the draft Cycling Delivery Plan ended in November 2014, cycle campaigners, such as CTC, are not expecting the official response to the consultation until after the election.
If the response released yesterday were the Government’s final response to the consultation, then there would be real room for concern. However this document is very much a staging zone, and perhaps even a courteous nod to the 500 who responded to the consultation as if to say “your concerns have not been forgotten”. It is not the final word on the subject, and CTC will continue pressing our concerns as outlined in our original response.
In the meantime, with parliament being dissolved, you can expect your prospective parliamentary candidates to come knocking on your door asking for your vote. CTC will be launching an online tool next week Vote Bike. It will allow you to quiz your MP about their views on cycling and see how supportive they are. It will very much support our ongoing campaigns of Space for Cycling and Road Justice and will help us hit the ground running for our future campaigning with parliament after 07 May. Check out www.votebike.org.uk from 31 March for further information.