Cycling announcement is dishonest spin

To suggest that today’s announcement of £148m over two years is the biggest cycling investment programme ever is both dishonest and laughable.  When I was on the board of Cycling England, we had a grant of £60m of new money which was matched by spending from local authorities. This £148m includes money from local councils and therefore is not even as much as we were getting.

Even if all the money were new – and it’s not – it would still be a drop in the ocean.

And remember, the Coalition abolished Cycling England which spent its money with a staff of just four people, efficiently and effectively. Yet it fell foul of the Coalition’s obsession with quangos even though it was a far better way of distributing money than directly from the DfT which has neither the resources nor the experience to ensure that proposed schemes are viable and good for cyclists. Who will police these schemes and chivvy councils who are just taking the money and the piss?

This cycling announcement, designed to take advantage of a quiet August day when news is sparse, also does nothing to address the key issue which prevents the creation of proper infrastructure for cyclists – the obsession that cars must take priority. If Cameron wanted something useful to say today, he should have emphasised that cyclists have a right to use the roads and to have roadspace allocated to them. Trying to squeeze them on to existing infrastructure with no attempt to reallocate some space currently used by cars will never work. You only have to look at Boris’s not so superhighways to see the results of failing to understand that basic requirement.

We need a policy that clearly prioritises cycling and devotes considerable resource to creating a genuine cycling culture.  It was politics that brought about the revival of cycling in the Netherlands when the car threatened to kill it off, and we need to do the same here.


  • Dr. Robert Davis

    Nice and forceful Christian.

  • Two Wheels Good

    Spot on.

  • Rich

    “We need a policy…”

    Here’s a suggestion for you. As you’re apparently running for mayor of London, why not. just for once, come up with some positive proposals and concrete ideas about what to do, concerning whatever it is you’re blogging about? I can’t help noticing that your entire campaing is based exclusivley on moaning about what you don’t want to happen.

    Not good enough I’m afraid. It’s all too easy to whine about something without actually knowing what to do. Let’s have some proposals backed up with facts and figures such as costings, benefits, and supported by the all-important “business case” please.

  • christianwolmar

    That’s not right. My campaign is actually based on quite the opposite, with numerous suggestions on how to make things better and improve London. Come and hear me speak and you will understand that. I will also be publishing a series of policy statements and strategies over the next year. Your view is perhaps coloured by my blogs, but that is the nature of blogging, commenting on what is happening. I hope you can be reassured over next few months.

  • Rich

    ” Your view is perhaps coloured by my blogs, but that is the nature of blogging, commenting on what is happening.”

    No it isn’t. There isn’t a set or rules governing blogging that states that all you have to do is complain and not offer genuine, practical alternatives. An aspiring mayor in particular needs to demonstrate an ability to outline and provide details of a better way. Smug complaining is no use to anyone.

  • Dominic Londesborough

    Agreed! More cycle paths needed, properly segregated from cars. Also an expansion of the bike hire scheme.