William Eichler 26 February 2020

Councils spend average of £2 per head on cycling infrastructure, study reveals

Local authorities have spent on average just £2 per head of population per year on cycling infrastructure over the last ten years, new research reveals.

Freedom of information requests to 55 English unitary authorities by Nottingham Trent researchers Dr Seamus Allison and Aoife Allison elicited data from 25 councils.

The data showed that the average spend per head of population was £2.02 on average over ten years. In 2018/19 the average spend was £2.83 and the five-year average was £2.58.

There was a wide range of spends across the authorities. The highest spend per head of population was £8.58 on average across the 10 years and the lowest was £0.03.

‘There have been various promises made by Government over the last 10 years regarding cycling,’ said Dr Allison.

‘This includes the prime minister’s recent pledge of £350m to create 250 miles of cycling infrastructure in 51 target cities. However, it has been pointed out that this would deliver on average under five miles per city and is just £1 spend per head.’

The Cycling & Walking Alliance is calling for the Government’s investment to be at least 5% of transport spend in 2020, to rise to a minimum of 10% over the next five years. In terms of spend per head of population this equates to £17 in 2020/21 and rising by 2024/25 to £34 per head.

Nineteen authorities commented that they did not separately record the spend on cycling infrastructure projects, and 18 did not respond to the freedom of information requests.

‘The data suggests that English local authorities are not investing in cycling infrastructure at anywhere near what has been called for by active travel organisations,’ Dr Allison added.

‘What's more, the fact that so many admitted that they do not record the spend on cycling suggests that they do not see this as a priority and are unlikely to have targets in this area. This appears to support the view that three-quarters of Britons feel their local authority does not take cycling seriously.’

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