The House of Commons voted through an amendment last night to add a Cycling Strategy into the new Infrastructure Bill.
This is a major change as ministers had been refusing to do this as late as the previous week. Well known broadcaster Jon Snow, who is also the President of the Cyclists’ Touring Club (or CTC), was delighted that so many members had emailed their MPs and helped bring about this change.
The CTC had produced a study from Leeds University which they named the “Economic Cycle”. The study called for a Cycling Strategy and showed that cycling could yield £248 billion of benefits in the period to 2050 if the targets for cycling growth are met, which feature in the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s 2013 “Get Britain Cycling” report. This calls for funding of £10 per person annually, rising to £20 over time. This could see us cycling as much as the Germans in 2025 and as much as the Dutch in 2050.
Jon Snow introduced the “Economic Cycle” by saying “Obesity, heart disease, poor air quality, congestion, road danger, climate change … these symptoms of past policy failures will become increasingly costly unless we can change course. We need to enable grandparents and grandchildren alike to cycle easily, safely and enjoyably for any local journey.”
The annual benefit of such a Cycling Strategy would be worth £35.5 bn from increased physical fitness, £7 bn from a fall in congestion, and almost £1 bn from fewer casualties from car usage. The accumulative £248 billion is 2 ½ times the government’s net borrowing and equivalent to 4 ½ years of health care spending in the UK, or 2.9 years of total spending on education. And another comparison of interest to all road users, whether on bikes or in cars, vans, etc: the £248bn is over 20 times the total road maintenance budget for the next 6 years!