Amazing comments on As Easy As Riding A Bike today:
Mike Chalkley – Chair Bournemouth Cycling Forum says:Paul M says:??????
After having been invited as Chair of the local cycling forum to send a letter of support from the forum for one of Bournemouth???s bids to the fund (which I flatly refused to do), I found out an interesting fact. The bids can only be for a maximum of 30% capital spending. That means that only ??167m of the fund is available for investment in infrastructure. The rest MUST go on ???soft??? measures such as schemes to show people safe routes from home to work, training, encouragement etc. What a pile of crap.
That arithmetic sounds fairly familiar. When we analysed how the City of London had spent its LCN grant money from TfL over the last few years (until the scheme stopped, at any rate), we found that typically the budget disappears down three roughly equal sized holes.
One is of course the physical, tangible (for what it is worth) expendiure on paint and asphalt and ??? very occasionally ??? kerbstones. The second is spent on feasibility studies, impact assessments, traffic counts, yada yada yada, maybe even the occasional engineering design, carried out by ???independent??? consultants (I parenthesise, because it seems to be that most of these consultants are actually entirely dependent on a handful of local authorities to keep them afloat) The third, startlingly, is in effect a subsidy of the City???s own planing and highways departments??? salary bills.
Weaknesses of the existing arrangements: Local authorities as delivery bodiesDespite the transformation in the availability of local transport capital since 1997 and the increased investment in cycling under the LTP regime, levels of expenditure on cycling still lag well below those in successful cycling cities outside the UK. Central government cannot insist that local authorities adopt a particular cycling programme, nor would it want to, given that the direction of local government policy is to increase the autonomy of local government; however it can influence authorities through the LTP process. This suggests that, if cycling is genuinely a national priority, more diverse delivery mechanisms need to be introduced, to complement and increase the impact of what local authorities are doing.
The first is how to work with local authorities, at present the main delivery agents, to deliver. Our main performance management system for local transport – the Local Transport Plan (LTP) system – identifies cycling as one of a large number of "products" that central government is purchasing from local government in return for the capital investment. But, in practice, our work with local authorities reveals that cycling, in most cases, is a significantly lower priority for transport investment than other outcomes, such as better public transport or small-scale highway improvements.
Cycling England was created to stop our wasting money on an inefficient and ineffective way of delivering cycling projects through grants to local authorities. It was abolished to save money, by, er, going back to that inefficient and ineffective system.