EDITED – THANKS MR BLOGS
In previous posts I put across an argument that the demise of Cycling England could be a good thing. It could mean the reintegration of cycling within the Department for Transport, making it publically accountable and receiving a deserving share of the transport budget. Like the Highways Agency, cycling could be an ‘Executive Agency’. Cycling is after all part of the sustainable transport (and public health and wellbeing and climate change and energy conservation etc) solution.
As you have probably learned today, not only is Cycling England to be abolished from March 2011 but the future for cycling now looks far bleaker than anyone could have imagined. Now there will simply be a Local Sustainable Travel Fund with the mechanism for delivery still to be determined.
What’s worse is that, although Bikeability (Cycling Proficiency), is set to be protected under the Department for Transport, there is nothing to say it won’t be affected by the funding cuts to be announced on October 20th.
With cycling project funding cast out across the provinces, walking and cycling campaign groups will be left fighting for scraps while the DfT marches on, indifferent to the plight of those that prefer simpler, greener, more fun and effective forms of transport, or simply cannot afford a car. This is the Conservative tactic of ‘Divide and Conquer’ at its worst. There is some light at the end of the tunnel however; according to a press release brought to my attention by a Lo Fidelity Reader, ‘DfT is also considering establishing an expert panel on wider sustainable travel which would promote cycling as part of the wider green agenda’. I’d imagine some eco-car manufacturers may also be in the panel too.
As jolly nice and good looking cyclists and pedestrians, we must not be distracted by localism. We must remain fixed now on Phillip Hammond, Norman Baker and the Department for Transport; if a major transport scheme is planned, cycling has to be integrated from the beginning as opposed to fighting to get a crap cycle path running next to it or exposed Sheffield Stands.
Above all Cycle Training in whatever form has to be retained or we lose yet another generation to the relentless pull of the sedentary lifestyle, leading to more dangerous roads.
Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, seems to think Sustainable Transport doesn’t incorporate the most sustainable forms of transport of all. Apparently we should all be using electric cars now. This is a man that clearly needs to be reshuffled at the first God given opportunity and the woefully car-centric Department for Transport needs to be reformed as it appears to be languishing decades behind in sustainability.
Whilst we work out what to do next, I’m off to dig out my Chas n Dave ‘Snooker Loopy’ EP, my florescent socks and look for a Sinclair C5 on ebay. I feel we are going back to the Conservative times of old.