DfT publish Cycle City Ambition Grant details

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In January we reported on the DfT’s announcement that £30m of funding will be available for cycling in 3 English cities. Since then 20 more cities have been allowed to bid in addition to the original 8, so Manchester’s chances of securing this important funding have dropped from a healthy 3 in 8 to a less probable 3 in 28. GMCC hope that TfGM and our Local Authorities are able to convince the DfT that Greater Manchester can make excellent use of this one-off funding – we believe there is a real appetite for cycling in the area that would benefit from the improved infrastructure that this money could provide.

This latest bit of cash for cycling might sound like a lot when you see the headline figures of £42 million from a total of £107m, but when you get into the details it’s obvious that most people and areas of the country will miss out. The £42m will only go to 3 cities (£10m each) and to some schemes in national parks (£12m total). The DfT “expect to provide funding to successful city applicants equivalent to around £10 per head of population over 2 years” – Amsterdammers get almost 4 times this much spent on cycling every year[1] and Copenhagen regularly spends over 12 times the amount that our DfT are offering[2]. Obviously the level of investment in the England still leaves a lot to be desired, and transport cycling needs a constantly improved budget if it is to address the years of under investment and motor vehicle centric spending and planning. Just look what British Cycling have been able to achieve in sport cycling with a sustained level of investment – we believe similar growth and success is possible for transport cycling but only if there’s commitment and funding across all levels of Government.

Last week the DfT published its guidance document containing details of the application process and how successful bidders would need to spend the money. One bit of good news in the document is that “the DfT contribution is only available for capital” (ie. physical infrastructure) which we believe is needed far more than “revenue spending” (marketing/training etc).  The DfT suggest that any new cycle infrastructure is “designed to a high standard as set out in the Cycle Infrastructure Design Guidance (LTN 2/08)“. Anyone familiar with the guidance offered in LTN 2/08 and the typical cycling provision in the UK will not be reassured by this statement. Joe Dunkley’s blog post “The DfT’s crap cycling manual” suggests that “Saying that LTN 2/08 is good shows just how abysmally low our expectations have sunk” –  hear hear!  Fortunately some infrastructure is being designed and installed that is far better than the suggestions in LTN 2/08 but unfortunately most of this is in London. Two recent examples of good designs for cycling are Royal College Street in Camden and the Cycle Superhighway 2 extension in Bow.

Bids need to be submitted by 30 April 2013. Assessment will be completed by May/June 2013.
There will be a presentation and Q&A session from the Department for Transport in TfGM’s offices on Friday March 8th. The two other presentations will be held in Leeds and London – does this mean Greater Manchester is already on the shortlist ?

[1] “£18.86 per person per year” //www.camcycle.org.uk/newsletters/65/article15.html
[2] “Copenhagen is spending 95AU$ (63GBP) per head” //www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/general/bike-futures/40830/

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