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Tory cuts mean more traffic jams and more school run problems

by Iain Roberts on 9 June, 2015

person-731492_640Cllr Iain Roberts has spoken out against Tory cuts of £23 million to the Cycle City Ambition Grant.

In places like Gatley and Cheadle, where there’s little space for more roads or wider roads, how do we reduce traffic jams and parking problems?

There are a few good options, but by far the cheapest and most cost-effective is to get more people cycling. School run jams and parking issues? Get more school kids cycling. Not enough parking at Gatley station? Get more commuters cycling. It certainly won’t solve everything, but it will make a big different.

How do we do it? Luckily, we know from evidence around the world what works. We need to create a network of traffic-free and quiet-road cycle routes so people feel safe cycling around. More parents will be happy for their kids to cycle to school if it feels safe, and we should be able to increase the percentage of journeys taken on bike from 2% to 10% if we get it right. It’s not an instant fix – even after the infrastructure is in place it takes time to persuade people to switch to bikes – but it does work.

There are other benefits too – cycling is healthy, cutting the cost to the NHS, and it cuts pollution. If we can get more people cycling, it helps everyone – whether they cycle or not.

So it’s a great disappointment that the Conservative government have decided to cut back on the investment in cycling pushed through by the Lib Dems in the Coalition. A cut of £23 million – nearly 20% – will mean we can do less to cut traffic jams and parking problems. The answers we were developing to make the school run better might now not be achievable.

The real shame is that it won’t even work as a cut. The increased costs from healthcare and road maintenance alone – though they’ll be hidden in the figures – will more than outweigh this cut to cycling investment. A short-sighted, short-term move by the Conservatives that will end up harming local people.

   10 Comments

10 Responses

  1. Bruce says:

    All the LibDems seem to do nowadays is bash the
    Tories. Your record for cycling around Cheadle leaves a lot to be desired. Take for instance the ludicrous cycle route down Warren Avenue – what a complete waste of money. I have been around there on many occasions and I have yet to see a cyclist use it.
    Who attends your meetings – the March Hare and the Mad Hatter?

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Very good Bruce. Happy to explain yet again about the cycle network. The aim is to create a comprehensive end-to-end network allowing people to make journeys that avoid main roads and busy junctions. That takes time and we’re at the start of it. Once we’ve got that network, we can get more people cycling with an aim to have 10% of journeys by bike by 2025. You’re right that, obviously, a half-finished network that hasn’t been promoted or publicised, isn’t going to see a big increase in use – but we never for a moment thought that it would.

  2. gb says:

    Cuts have to come somewhere. The conservatives are doing their best to eliminate the deficit and debt left by the previous Labour administration. This is the most significant policy at present to allow our economy to grow so that we can afford better facilities in the future. I feel this is a small price to pay and one that I shall hardly notice.

    • Iain Roberts says:

      If these cuts are needed, why didn’t Osborne announce them in his budget? The reality is that these cuts make no economic sense. We know that every pound invested in improving cycling facilities benefits the economy many times over. One of the most common complaints we get as councillors is school traffic and school parking and we’ll have to tell people that this funding cut has made it more difficult for us to do anything about it.

  3. Roy says:

    Well said Bruce I totally agree with you.
    The Manchester Road cycle route is another example, Lots of Money Spent but still not totally finished 1 year after it was started, what part of the route that has been finished is not used by Manchester bound cyclists who due to this folly now share a narrower road with other road users, and cyclists travelling from Parrs Wood to Cheadle rarely use it. Pity the Conservatives could not have cut this budget earlier had they been able to so, Manchester Road would have remained wider and safer for all users, money would have been saved and the Council saved the embarrassment of producing a dangerous White Elephant.

    • Halifax says:

      Roy – I completely agree with your assessment of Manchester Road.

      As someone who cycles down that route daily, I am of the view this road s now far more dangerous for cyclist than it was before the ‘improvements’ If this is an example how our Council spends a cycle grant than I thank God that the budget is being cut.

  4. David Johnson says:

    Why is the cheapest, healthiest, quietist, least polluting and socially pleasantest means of transport ignored and sometimes made more difficult? It is a method that we are all equipped with and would serve well for many journeys. I mean walking. Most of our roads have good pavements although sometimes current planning and design seems to be done without regard for footwork. Incidentally I gave up cycling to work several tens of years ago – not to save money but to save me – after being squashed into the kerb to often.

  5. gb says:

    One way to reduce school pick-up parking is to walk. I doubt many parents pick up their children by cycling.

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