22nd Oct, 2018

Wheely bad deal for Warwickshire cyclists

Laura Kearns 2nd Jan, 2018 Updated: 5th Jan, 2018

CYCLISTS in Warwickshire are being short-changed.

Warwickshire County Council should spend £10 a year per head of the population on cycling, a benchmark set in a parliamentary report.

But instead the council spends less than ten per cent – just 88p per person.

The figure was discovered by Green Party county councillor Jonathan Chilvers who says at that rate it would take 86 years to build the council’s proposed cycling network, which includes a route from Warwick to Loughborough, and from Rugby to Birmingham.

Coun Chilvers told the Observer: “These figures show that Warwickshire County Council spends a measly amount on cycling. At the rate the council are going most of us will be dead and buried before we get decent cycle routes linking our homes, schools and shops.

“They say they support getting on a bike, but it’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is. If cycle routes are safe and enjoyable it’s easier to use them for short journeys so we are less likely to be stuck in a jam when we need to use our cars.”

The parliamentary report into cycling says it should be seen as ‘on par’ with other modes of transport and that ‘the economic benefits in terms of health and traffic congestion alone are substantially greater than the cost’ of £10 per person, per year.

Gary Wythe, owner of Unleashed Cycles in Warwick, agrees more money needs spending on cycling infrastructure. He said if people felt safer on their bikes more would stop using their cars.

He told the Observer: “Congestion is at an all-time high and the extra money would make a massive difference to this. I feel more people would not be so scared to get on a bike and complete their small commutes instead of jumping in the car.

“Cycle routes have been a big topic of conversation within the shop and everyone I have spoken to has expressed their disappointment with the lack and quality of these facilities.”

But the council says the amount it spends varies annually and that it is working on making improvements.

A spokesman said: “Warwickshire County Council does not receive a dedicated budget from government to spend on cycling, however in the last year the council spent £487,600 on developing dedicated cycling infrastructure and providing Bikeability training, which equates to 88p per head of population.

“This figure excludes some expenditure on cycling such as officer time, maintenance of cycling facilities and development work for a number of proposed major highway schemes which include cycling infrastructure. The amount that the council spends on developing cycling infrastructure varies year on year.

“The county council is committed to expanding the cycling infrastructure in Warwickshire as part of the overall transport network and works hard to secure the funding to deliver on its ambitions for cycling.”

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