The University of Cambridge has published the results from its recent survey that looked at the barriers to investing in cycling. People targeted by the survey included: local government highways officers; local politicians; Local Enterprise Partnerships; cycling advocates; academics; consultants; and businesses with an interest in cycling.
The main barriers uncovered by the survey come as no surprise:
- Funding issues
- Lack of political leadership
- Lack of support within local authority highways departments
Funding tends to be scarce, sporadic and involves competitive bidding, with the lion’s share going to the cities. This creates a postcode lottery for cycling investment and makes it difficult for local authorities to make long-term plans. Also, the competitive element creates a barrier to sharing expertise between councils.
The survey suggests that there is little political support for cycling at either the national or local levels, with a few notable exceptions, such as the London Mayor. The general picture is one where priority is still given to providing for motor vehicles. It seems that politicians still don’t see cycling as a viable mainstream transport option. In fact, schemes are often compromised by local councillors who are worried about anything that may cause additional delay for motor vehicles.
The survey results also paint a rather gloomy picture amongst those tasked with delivering cycling schemes on the ground. Cuts to council budgets have meant that most local authorities have had to restructure and reduce their staff. In smaller local authorities, cycling is usually a small part of one officer’s role, who has to fight to get their voice heard amongst colleagues.
When asked about the solutions that could overcome these barriers, the most popular answers were:
- Ring-fenced, long-term funding for cycling
- High-level political support at national and local levels to drive through changes
Respondents felt that tackling the funding and political support issues would in turn encourage local authority highway departments to give more priority to cycling.
The survey results emphasise how important it is for local people and campaign groups like Spokes to lobby for change and to make the case for investing in cycling. So what can you do to help?
- Let us know what cycling schemes would make a difference to your local journeys, so we can raise it at the Cycle Forum
- Let your local councillor know that you support increased investment in cycling
- Add your name to the national Space for Cycling campaign