Extra powers for councils to boost cycling

Extra powers for councils to boost cycling

DfT says cycling and walking should be the norm for short journeys by 2040

COUNCILS COULD be given powers to ban pavement parking and introduce 20mph limits under reforms to get more people cycling and walking.

The Department for Transport said it would cut red tape to make it simpler and easier for local authorities to fine motorists who mount the kerb. The measure would put councils across England on a par with those in London who have had powers to automatically ban pavement parking for 40 years.

The DfT also confirmed that it would publish analysis into 20mph limits, providing guidance for councils considering replacing the 30mph restriction in built-up areas. The steps were outlined last week in a delayed cycling and walking investment strategy.

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It represents the culmination of a Times campaign, Cities Fit for Cycling, launched more than five years ago to improve cycle safety and put the issue at the heart of the government’s transport policy. Ministers said that the £1.2 billion plan would lead to increased investment in segregated cycle lanes, bike storage facilities, workplace schemes and lessons for children.

The DfT said that it would make cycling and walking the norm for short journeys by 2040. Targets written into the five-year plan include doubling cycle journeys from 800 million to 1.6 billion by 2025. It is predicted that the proportion of children cycling or walking to school will rise from 49 to 55 per cent over the next decade.

The plan was criticised amid concerns that the investment was “paltry” when compared with the sums spent on roads. There was also no guarantee that the money would be spent on cycling, with most of the funding devolved to councils or other groups.

The DfT said the £1.2 billion “may be invested in cycling and walking”, adding: “Many of the decisions on the allocation of these funds will be made by the relevant local body.” The department told The Times that £316 million was guaranteed to be spent on cycling.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The £1.2 billion made available is paltry, less than 10 per cent of the £15 billion road investment strategy.” Daniel Zeichner, shadow transport minister, said that the strategy “has almost no new investment and confirms that spending on cycling investment will fall away dramatically over the next five years if the Conservatives are returned to government.”

The plan includes £50 million for cycling proficiency training for 1.3 million schoolchildren, £85 million to “cycle proof” 200 sections of A-roads and £389.5 million for councils to promote walking and cycling, including more dedicated lanes. Some 3,430 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads in the year ending last September.

The government said it was considering how to streamline traffic regulation orders — which enable councils to restrict parking in certain areas — to “make it simpler and easier for local authorities to ban pavement parking where they consider it appropriate”.

A study led by University College London will assess the benefits of 20mph limits after Manchester council suggested that it did not cut accidents.

This article first appeared in The Times