February 2013

London praises Edinburgh!

Edinburgh’s groundbreaking decision to allocate 5% [rising by 1% a year] of its transport budget to cycling investment has been quoted in the London Assembly as an example to the Mayor, Boris Johnson…

[Later:  Our story was picked up on 14.2.13 by Edinburgh Evening News]

Green Party London Assembly Member, and former Mayoral Candidate, Jenny Jones, proposing that the Mayor’s allocation for cycling investment in 2013/14 be raised to £145m, said…

“Getting people out of their cars and on to bikes and public transport has a huge health and environmental benefit. It’s also good for the economy, with every pound invested in cycling producing a benefit of 9 pounds for the community.

“By 2016 Edinburgh City Council is going to spend nine per cent of its transport budget on cycling, but we are being told our Mayor can’t even manage two per cent. London can and must do better.

The motion, seconded by Lib Dem leader Caroline Pidgeon, was passed by the Assembly.

The £145m represents a mere 2% of Transport for London’s massive funding but, at £17-£18 per person for London’s 8 million population, it should provide big improvements in infrastructure and get many more people onto their bikes, if continued consistently over the coming years.

The Edinburgh/London comparative transport budget % allocations to cycling were also covered (albeit mentioning only Edinburgh’s 5%, not the annual 1% rise) in a report to the London Assembly [pdf 488k] and in the media – for example, BBC News.

Like Edinburgh’s innovative cycling budget allocation, London’s budget allocation for cycling covers both the capital and revenue budgets.   Already in Edinburgh the impact of the new revenue funding has been noticed and appreciated by people using their bikes for everyday journeys.  The higher capital funding takes longer to have an impact, but Edinburgh’s consistent cycling investment over many years continues to increase cycle use.

Edinburgh’s gradual but consistent rise in cycle use came (and continues) at the same time as cycling was static in most of Scotland and of the UK.  London, also with continuing modest cycling investment such as the superhighways and Boris Bikes, has also seen gradually rising bike use.

We discuss Edinburgh’s success so far in our submission to the UK Parliament All-Party Cycling Group’s inquiry, Get Britain Cycling.   The rising budgets in both cities should cement their leading positions, provided they use the money to create infrastructure and conditions in which many more people feel confident to get about by bike for their everyday journeys.

Sadly, at government level, the Scottish Government allocates a mere 1% of its transport budget to cycling.  Even this, we suspect, may currently be better than the UK government!  However, like Scotland, the UK government has started allocating a few small extra chunks of money every now and then.   We even wonder if it is beginning to regret one of its first and most tragic kneejerk actions after taking office – the scrapping of Cycling England and its funding.


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