James Evison 01 March 2012

Council chiefs: no funds for cycling improvements

Cycle safety improvements to infrastructure requested by ministers this week cannot be undertaken due to stretched resources, council chiefs have said.

Transport ministers Norman Baker and Mike Penning wrote to local authorities this week urging them to work with cycling groups and use existing guidance to improve infrastructure and safety at junctions.

The letter curtly stated ‘provision of infrastructure for cyclists is already one of your responsibilities’ and pointed to the usage of Local transport note 2108: cycle infrastructure design.

Responding to the call, chair of the Local Government Association’s transport board, Cllr Peter Box, told Surveyor councils have already undertaken significant work on cycling.

‘Up and down the country councils have embarked on a huge range of initiatives to support cyclists, such as laying cycle paths on roads and in parks, installing bike racks in high streets, organising community cycle rides, supporting town centre bike rental schemes, and promoting cycling proficiency tests and bike safety awareness campaigns,’ he said.

But Cllr Box also noted the potential for new work would be challenging, due to the current reduction in budgets.

‘[Councils] have been maintaining a chronically underfunded road system for many years which, coupled with the recent severe funding cuts from central government, means resources for a vast overhaul of junction layouts and speed limit alterations are extremely stretched at the moment.’

Cycling charities have called on the Government to improve funding opportunities, in order to alleviate stretched budgets, and allow for the creation of safer junctions and infrastructure – following a Commons debate on the issue last week.

Roger Geffen, policy director for CTC, said: ‘The Government now has a clear mandate to get on with promoting “more as well as safer cycling”’.

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