UK cycle lanes

Cycling Investment Where Has The Money Gone

Back in May 202 the UK Government announced a 2 billion package to create a better environment for walking and cycling. That is a ton of money but where is the money being spent and is it a success ? Are the local authorities actually investing in safer cycle lanes or just ticking boxes and painting lines on wide roads.

The pop up cycle lanes, will they ever get to be a permanent fixture? Do the public actually want them?

One place that is shouting loudly about its cycle lane success is London. However, is it as successful as the publicity train is making its out to be?

London Cycling lanes

The Mayor of London is boasting that they now have over 60 miles of cycle lanes in the capital. However, the courts ruled that some of the schemes were unlawful. The lanes were created in “low traffic neighbourhoods”, some lanes were created by closing roads and extending pavements.

Unfortunately one such scheme in Kensington caused gridlock in the neighbourhood and had to be removed.

Are The Cycle Lanes Legal

Critics say the measures have also blocked emergency response vehicles and caused problems for local businesses in towns and cities across the UK.

In January, the High Court ruled that guidance issued by the Mayor to promote the expansion of schemes was ‘irrational’ and unlawful because it failed to safeguard road access for taxis and disabled people. At least 138 schemes have been completed, with 13 having to be scrapped and 25 altered after a backlash from residents and the emergency services.

An investigation in January 2020 found town halls squandered nearly £1million after being forced to scrap expensive and controversial road schemes brought in during the pandemic.(source)

Greater Manchester Cycle Lanes

Even before the pandemic and covid 19 was uttered, Manchester had created a 10 year plan back in 2018. This was to create the UK biggest walking, cycling network in the UK. They also enlisted the help of Chris Boardman(Olympian) to contribute to the masterplan and help publicise the ambitious plan.

The goal is to connect every community, making cycling and walking safe for ‘every 12-year-old’ and offer an alternative to driving for thousands of people across the city region.

The Final Plan

Planners, engineers and residents from each district have contributed to the first draft of the proposal.

But Mr Boardman is clear the scheme will evolve based on public opinion – to ‘get the outcome they need, not what we think they need’. (source)

The Bee Network Greater Manchester

So far, we are spending £18 per head per year in Greater Manchester – that’s more than any other city-region in the UK and almost at Dutch levels, which are amongst the highest in Europe. That adds up to 108 cycling and walking schemes with a total value of more than £500 million in the development pipeline. Around 55 miles of routes will be completed by Christmas 2021 plus around 17 Active Neighbourhoods.

But we have plans for much, much more. This is a 10-year, £1.5 billion plan to create 1,800 miles of routes and 2,400 new crossings connecting every neighbourhood, school, high street and public transport hub in the city-region. (source)

Wigan Cycle Routes

Residents in Wigan can now give their views on several proposed new crossings that will enable more people to make short journeys on foot or by bike in the borough.

The proposed crossings, delivered in partnership with Wigan Council, which are now under consultation, will form part of the Bee Network, a 10-year plan for Greater Manchester to deliver the UK’s largest cycling and walking network.

The Bee Network will enable people to leave the car at home for everyday trips to school or to the shops. This will contribute to the one million additional daily sustainable journeys Greater Manchester wants to achieve by 2040, while also having wider benefits to health, congestion and clean air.

The consultation on the proposed changes launched on 16 August 2021 and will run until 10 September 2021

Residents in Wigan can now give their views on several proposed new crossings that will enable more people to make short journeys on foot or by bike in the borough.

The proposed crossings, delivered in partnership with Wigan Council, which are now under consultation, will form part of the Bee Network, a 10-year plan for Greater Manchester to deliver the UK’s largest cycling and walking network.

The Bee Network will enable people to leave the car at home for everyday trips to school or to the shops. This will contribute to the one million additional daily sustainable journeys Greater Manchester wants to achieve by 2040, while also having wider benefits to health, congestion and clean air.

The consultation on the proposed changes launched on 16 August 2021 and will run until 10 September 2021 (Source)

Oxford Cycle Lanes

A newly built cycle lane in Oxford didn’t quite meet the approval of cyclist because of an obvious hazard. There are 2 lamp posts in the middle of the cycle lane.

Oxfordshire County Council, which is in charge of maintaining highways throughout the county, said the lampposts would eventually be removed and placed alongside the path, but until then, reflective barriers would be placed around them. (source + Image of Lampposts)

The Future Of Cycle Lanes

After researching the progress of new cycle lanes with the 2 billion injected to boost the scheme it has left me a little deflated. Some have said that 2 billion is not enough, maybe it isn’t but if the councils get more money would they just waste even more money.

It may be down to the journalistic views that bad news, people making errors sell papers better the good news stories. Perhaps there are lots of successful bike lane implementations that just don’t get covered by the reporters.

Local Authorities Spending

Are the local authorities just quickly mocking up maps with ill conceived cycle lanes just to get the additional funding ? Just painting lines on wide roads, pop up cycle lanes and cycle lanes in non busy residential areas is not the answer. The whole infrastructure needs to change in any future development plans to include safe cycle lanes.

All too often cycle lanes just end, it’s like they ticked a box to provide a cycle lane, job done. It seems that with the exception of Manchester that the planning of bike lanes is just an after thought. Many of the rushed schemes have actually caused more congestion in city centres, as soon as they appear they disappear.

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