The list of quangos to be abolished, leaked to the Daily Telegraph today presumably by a government source, includes Cycling England, the body on whose board I sit. The open letter I wrote in Transport Times, which I have just posted on this site, seems to have failed.
From what I gather, though, there may be battles behind the scenes to save Cycling England. It would, indeed, be daft to abolish it. The government wants to be seen as green, and Cycling England has been a very efficient way of delivering ways of boosting cycling – and I am not just saying that because I am on the board. The facts speak for themselves. Cycling England, with a staff of just three, plus a very active chairman, has managed to deliver a £6Om programme efficiently and effectively.
It is, indeed, a model of Cameron’s Big Society. The work has drawn in lots of volunteers – the board, for example, who do not get paid, apart from a small sum for chairman, but more important hundreds of people up and down the country helping kids and adults to learn to ride. Through the demonstration towns scheme, it has shown that it is possible to boost cycling levels considerably with relatively small sums of money. All in all, it is a win-win situation and yet through ideology and crass stupidity the government wants to abolish it in favour of various nebulous initiatives to help cycling.
Norman Baker is in a difficult position, but this one is really worth fighting for. If he really wants the government to have any credibility on the issue of cycling, he should make a last ditch attempt to save Cycling England. Its not the money so much as the fact that civil servants would not be able to deliver the programmes such as Bikeability with the same efficiency and effectiveness, and most of it will simply not happen.