The Department for Transport's Cycling Delivery Plan

The first 'theme' of the Department for Transport's Cycling Delivery Plan is entitled 'Vision, leadership, and ambition' - yet sadly the Plan has an alarming lack of all three.

Much has been made of the lack of funding commitment. A figure of £10 per head, per annum, is mentioned in the Plan. This would amount to around £600m per year, or just 3% of the total transport budget. But this target is merely something the government holds as an 'aspiration'; indeed, the exact wording is an 'aspiration to explore' ways of achieving this figure. 

As others have noted, the government is happy to commit to £24 billion of locked-in funding on the strategic road network. That they continue to fail to provide funding commitment for cycling plainly demonstrates the lack of seriousness with which they treat it as a mode of transport.  

Just as worryingly, the Plan appears to shift the responsibility for delivering on cycling infrastructure to cash-strapped local authorities, many of whom have little or no interest, or expertise, in designing properly for cycling.

There are some promising elements in the Plan, including (in Annex B) proposed long-term partnerships with interested local authorities. This suggests a move away from the short-termism of the competitive bidding for funding, which saw expertise (and cash) flow from one local authority to another, with little ability to develop long-term planning. 

However, for people who live in local authorities that lack the willingness to enter these kinds of partnerships, the picture is bleak, with unclear or non-existent funding streams, and (still) no acceptable official guidance on how to properly design cycling into existing roads and new schemes where it really matters - along busy routes, and through junctions.

Without this guidance - drawing on existing international best practice - what money that is available for cycling will continue to be spent poorly, on schemes that attempt to squeeze cycling into pedestrian-specific design, or those which 'innovate' in the absence of an appropriate design manual.

If the 'Delivery Plan' is actually to deliver anything at all, the Department for Transport must show genuine leadership and commitment, both in terms of funding, and design guidance.