The Conservative administration at Suffolk County Council agreed yesterday to a motion proposed by the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group to develop a strategic costed cycling plan. The motion, seconded by LibDem leader Caroline Page, and proposed by Green Robert Lindsay first asked for a strategic, costed five-year cycling plan to be drawn up for Suffolk. It secondly asked for a commitment of 5% of the annual Integrated Transport Block (the equivalent of £160,000) to be spent on cycling infrastructure.
Both motions were vital: without a commitment of funding, it will be impossible to implement a cycling plan. However, the Conservatives refused to commit any funding whatsoever to cycling infrastructure – thus managing to have their fiscal cake and eat it.
In the past SCC used to have a cycling team and a costed cycling infrastructure plan – which was allocated funds from the Transport budget every year.
Back in 1995 the then Country Councillors voted to fully support plans to develop the Sustrans’ National Cycle Network routes in Suffolk and steady progress was made with this for several years.
A cycling budgets also benefits other modes of travel:
1) Most off-carriageway cycle infrastructure is designed to be of equal benefit to pedestrians e.g. shared use cycle paths; Toucan crossing; bridges – therefore ‘Safe Routes to School’ (for both cycling and walking).
2) More cycle commuters means less traffic on roads, leading to better journey times for those who really need their vehicles.
Since 2011, Suffolk and Ipswich were eligible for six sustainable travel grants from the Department for Transport, yet did not win a single one of these. By failing to commit a minimal amount of funding, it is likely that any future bids for funding will likewise fail.