Peeping at the pockets of the Prime Minister

Today the Prime Minister announced investment in cycling. The numbers aren’t exactly clear yet; they are still bouncing up and down like the stock exchange – but what is clear is Newcastle’s success in getting £6m from the Cycle City Ambition Fund (CCAF). We reported about the bid here. Let’s have a look at today’s figures and what they mean for Newcastle. And where else to start than the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Dutch spend £30 per person year on year on cycling infrastructure. And as the Dutch cycleways are largely built, it can be expended on expansion, upgrades and upkeep. Back to the UK. The CCAF allows Newcastle to spend £10 per person and is only valid for two years. Then Newcastle will have to go back to the table and bid for further ‘scraps’ from the DfT, using up valuable energy, motivation and enthusiasm. Yes, the funding arrangements for cycling are patchy. That’s with motorways continuing to get billions, even when government’s own figures show that motor traffic has been falling for years (more here).

All this is happening in a city where people are less motor-dependent than everyone would make you believe. Over 40% of households do not have a car. We crunched the Census 2011 numbers here.

Granted, technical expertise of the highway engineer and even the technical design manuals require some serious updating too as the Get Britain Cycling report highlighted. There is still time to write to your MP and ask them to attend the vital debate in the House of Commons on 2 September 19:00-22:00, info here. It’s the first day back after the recess. Be there, be square.

The Dutch are coming to Newcastle in November to talk about their cycleways. Decision and policy-makers will receive their invite soon. More here. And don’t forget, we are still collating your beautiful bike stories. Read about it here.

The national picture is outlined by our partnering organisation CEoGB here.

So, is this a cycling revolution the Prime Minister announces? Cycling today gets a puncture repair kit, which is a lot of spin – not a revolution. A pedalling Prime Minster? More like peddling.