£20 million for cycling; meanwhile NICE urges action to make cycling and walking the norm for short trips

Transport Minister Norman Baker today announced an additional £20 million funding for cycling infrastructure across England, to go with £15 million (matched by £15 million from local councils) announced by the Department of Transport earlier in the year.

The Cycling Embassy welcomes this investment; money is desperately needed to start making our towns, cities and villages more cycling-friendly. However we would argue that it goes nowhere near far enough. £20 million will inevitably be spread very thinly across the country, and it is hard to see precisely what it will achieve. The size of the announcement pales into insignificance with the amounts being proposed for large infrastructure projects across the country. We would urge the government to engage more seriously with funding for bicycle infrastructure, both as a way to get the country moving, and also to bring about the health benefits (and savings) identified by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in their report, also published today.

The NICE report [pdf] notes that two-thirds of all men, and three-quarters of all women in England are not sufficiently active to maintain their health. Building cycling and walking into daily routines is an obvious and easy way of addressing this health problem, labelled a 'silent epidemic.' NICE suggest that walking and cycling should be the norm for trips of 15-20 minutes, and that action is required to make cycling a safe and viable option for these short trips. It notes that a combination of factors discourage people from cycling, in particular

Concerns about the physical environment... with regard to perceptions of and actual safety. Motor traffic is a major deterrent for many cyclists (potential and current) and pedestrians in rural areas – and for children in all areas. 

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain welcomes the NICE guidance.