Government infographic spells out cycling’s economic benefits

Highways England, a government-owned company, has produced an infographic that lists cycling’s many health, social, economic and congestion-busting benefits. The graphic was included in a new Cycling Strategy document released on Friday. Highways England manages the strategic road network in England, or about 4,400 miles of roads, half of which are motorways.

The infographic – viewable in hi-res on Flickr – within the Cycling Strategy from Highways England majors on the economic benefits of cycling, including the fact that Danish levels of cycling would save the NHS £17 billion over the next 20 years. It also stresses the benefits to retailers of being sited near cycleways. “Bike lanes can increase retail sales by a quarter,” promises the graphic, which also states that more people cycling would reduce congestion on England’s roads.

Highways England plans to spend £100 million on “cycle proofing” 200 road schemes. These cycling schemes  include creating cycleways beside A-roads, such as the multi-user track to be created when the A556 in Cheshire is “de-trunked”.

Significantly, Highways England says its about “more than just supporting the millions of cars, vans and motorcycles that use our roads every day. Our network also plays a key role in supporting the needs of vulnerable road users, including cyclists.”

The agency is seeking to develop an “integrated, safe, comprehensive and high quality cycling network.” It defines safe as “separate from traffic and that enable users of all abilities to cycle …”

Additional infrastructure will be needed, says the agency, because “cycling is prohibited on our motorways and incompatible with major parts of our network.”

The Government infographic has been adapted from one produced for British Cycling in 2013. Many of the health benefit stats on the infographic were first contained in “Claiming the Health Dividend” published for the Department for Transport in 2014. Despite the Government being well aware of the health, social, economic and congestion-busting benefits of cycling it continues to subsidise and mainly provide for motoring. The Government has plans to spend £15.2 billion on building new roads but, over the next five years has only pledged to spend £300 million on cycling.



Sustrans Scotland launches new promotional video for Caledonia Way cycle route

Long-distance Scottish cycling route the Caledonia Way is being upgraded, and is scheduled for completion this spring.

In advance of the official launch, Sustrans Scotland has launched a video which shows off the scenery which can be enjoyed along the route, and introduces some of the communities which it connects. The Caledonia Way stretches from Campbeltown to Fort William.

The route adds to Scotland’s National Cycle Network, which Sustrans Scotland has estimated brings in hundreds of millions of pounds in spending from cycle tourism and domestic users. Sustrans’ figures show that in 2014 the estimated spend of tourists on the National Cycle Network was £126 million in 2014, while the value of domestic spending was £249 million.

John Lauder, Sustrans Scotland National Director, said:

“The new and improved Caledonia Way will be a fantastic addition to Scotland’s cycle-tourism offer. Given Scotland’s growing National Cycle Network and breath-taking scenery, it’s not hard to see why cycle tourism and leisure tourism are valued at hundreds of millions of pounds. The Caledonia Way will make a fantastic addition to this growing industry.

“The route will also enable local people to get active by making those everyday journeys by bike – whether it’s the commute to work or school, a trip to the shops, or to visit friends.

“Our great new video highlights Scotland is a must-visit destination for cycle-tourism – and for people here in Scotland a reminder of the fantastic cycling and scenery on their door-step.”

Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport & Islands said:

“This new route will bring multiple benefits to rural communities in the area and will help promote active travel across the country.

“For the past two years we have invested record amounts into active travel – £78.4m in total. And this shows that everyone benefits – local residents, local businesses, tourists – not to mention the health and wellbeing of everyone who will use this new route.

“I look forward to seeing this route, including the Great Glen Cycleway, becoming one of our flagship routes and welcoming record number of bike users to the area.”

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said:

“From the tranquillity of Campbeltown to the ‘outdoor capital of the UK’, the completion of the Caledonia Way improvements will allow our visitors to experience the beauty of Scotland’s undulating west-coast landscape on two wheels.

“Scotland is world-renowned for being one of the best destinations for cycling tourism and this final stage in improvements presents a huge opportunity for the local visitor economy to grow. From restaurants to accommodation providers, businesses can capitalise on this year-long leisure pursuit as we encourage visitors to ‘get on their bike’ and explore our stunning country.”

Map shows that car-ownership in cities is less than politicians might think

A new map-and-data merge vividly demonstrates that many urban areas in England and Wales have electoral wards where the majority of people don’t own cars. Some wards in London, Newcastle and other cities have car-ownership of less than 30 percent yet local and national governments continue to plough money mainly into facilities for motorists.

The new map has been created by Tom Forth of Imactivate, a data consultancy based in Leeds. The map uses information from the 2011 Census and the Office for National Statistics, and by plotting this often obtuse data on Google Maps it shows how car ownership in towns and cities in England and Wales is perhaps not as prevalent as politicians and planners seem to believe.

The map also shows that rural areas are highly car dependent, which isn’t surprising considering how public transport to such areas has been cut back over many years, including the Beeching-induced cuts to Britain’s rail network and the politically-motivated bus deregulation of the 1980s.

Forth says Imactivate works with data to “tell stories in a digital world.” He created BusStart, a smartphone app that evaluates bus routes and suggests changes that would better connect people with jobs. Last year Imactivate also used Google’s flight data to discover that Britain’s hub airport isn’t Heathrow but Schiphol, a finding that was reported on BBC Radio 4.

Urban cycle advocates will no doubt use the car-ownership map to show businesses and local politicians that providing facilities that encourages more cycling and walking is economically and socially sound.

Call for papers as it’s revealed Leicester is to host Cycle City 2016

Cycle City will be hosted in Leicester in 2016. The two-day cycle policy and planning conference has previously been staged in Birmingham and Leeds, and last year was held in Newcastle

Leicester is not one of the cities to have received millions of pounds from the Department for Transport via the Cycle City Ambition Grant funding but has been progressing its provision for cycling regardless. According to a piece I wrote in The Guardian this is because Leicester has an elected mayor. When he was the council leader Sir Peter Soulsby could do little for active travel, but once he was voted in as mayor he was able to start a program called Connecting Leicester which will, over the next few years, transform the way people move around the city.

The public realm improvements in the city centre are having a significant impact on investment decisions and the take up of employment land and office space, attracting companies such as IBM to move to the city.

Visitors to Cycle City will be able to see the transformation of the city first hand. The conference will be held in the £61m Curve theatre in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter on 19th and 20th May.

Organised by Landor Links, publisher of Local Transport Today, Cycle City is co-sponsored by Leicester City Council. The Association of Bikeability Schemes, or TABS, will host its national cycle training conference in tandem with Cycle City. There will also be joint conferences with inclusive cycling organisation Wheels for All and the European Cycle Logistics Federation.

Cycle City is now calling for papers to present to the 700+ anticipated delegates.

“We request papers from academics, consultants, local authority officers and councillors, developers, LEPs, workplaces, suppliers to the sector and campaigners,” said Landor’s Rory McMullan.



Bikeability secures £50m in funding from Department for Transport

The Department for Transport has today announced it is to secure the future of Bikeability cycle training. £50m is to be provided, enabling the delivery of Bikeabilty for the next four years.

A statement from the DfT said:

“This funding will help to increase children’s road awareness, encourage children to be healthy and active. Since its inception, more than 1.5m school children have received training through Bikeability. We expect to train 275,000 children during 2015/16.”

In 2016, Bikeability will have been running for 10 years.

Isobel Stoddart, development manager The Association of Bikeability Schemes, or TABS, said

“We look forward to working with the Government over the next four years to support the cycle training industry to maintain high standards and professionalism. Bikeability training can teach children not only how to cycle more safely on the road, but also offers many other personal attributes such as independence, confidence, decision making and general co-ordination.”

She added: “TABS would like to see cycle training as part of the national curriculum so every child in the country has the chance to benefit from this essential life-skill.”

Phillip Darnton, executive director of the Bicycle Association, welcomed the cash guarantee:

“The announcement is particularly significant, given the Government’s decision in the Spending Review to cut investment in the future of cycling by, effectively, two-thirds over the coming five years. In this respect it is a striking recognition of the continuing importance of teaching youngsters to ride cycles, at the very age that they really want to learn.”

He added: “It’s a pity that there isn’t funding to offer Bikeability to every child.”