The Government are committed to encouraging more cycling in England, given the benefits in terms of transport, public health and the environment. Today the Department for Transport is publishing a review of the 1996 National Cycling Strategy, copies of which have been placed in the Library.
The key findings of the review are that:
whilst investment in cycling has increased substantially in recent years, there has been no commensurate increase in cycling levels;
The Government need to get a better return on their collective investment in cycling—for transport, sport, leisure and tourism; cycling is not sufficient a priority for local authorities that we can rely on them as exclusively as we have to date to deliver an increase in cycling.
I am therefore announcing today that we will form a new, cross-Government group of representatives from interested Departments: Transport; Education and Skills; Health; Culture, Media and Sport (represented by Sport England); Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. This group will set broad objectives to get more people cycling, more safely.
We will also create a new expert advisory body, Cycling England, to plan and co-ordinate Government investment in cycling, reporting to the cross-Government group. Cycling England will have a budget of £5 million per annum for the next three years to allocate to cycling programmes. It will comprise experts in transport policy, engineering, public health, the cycle industry, local government, cycle sport, cycle training and education. Cycling England will not be a separate spending body in itself, but there will be a presumption that Government will invest the £5 million budget earmarked in cycling in accordance with its advice. Cycling England will monitor programmes and be accountable to the Government group and Ministers for the value for money and effectiveness of its programmes.
We expect Cycling England to extend our co-operation with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in cycling. NGOs in this field bring huge energy, experience and commitment and have been very effective in their own areas of work. We anticipate making better use of those attributes to supplement the work of local authorities.
It will be for Cycling England to determine its priorities, but we expect its programmes to fall into three broad categories:
training of children and adults to the new national standard for cycle training; cycle routes and secure cycle parking; marketing programmes to provide, on a targeted basis, better information on opportunities to cycle and to spread good practice in providing for cyclists.