Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Holding Response to "Get Britain Cycling" Petition - Cobblers!

I had an email from Government's e-petition website in the early hours of Tuesday morning which contained a response to the petition in support of the "Get Britain Cycling" report, as it had had received over 10,000 signatures.

The petition, started by Kaya Burgess of The Times, can still be signed here. It states:

We the undersigned call on the Prime Minister to pledge that the Government will implement the recommendations in the 'Get Britain Cycling' parliamentary report.

The inquiry, chaired by a cross-party panel of MPs and peers, heard that promoting cycling as a healthy and affordable way to travel can tackle Britain's obesity crisis, save millions from NHS budgets, boost the economy and reduce congestion on our roads and trains.

The inquiry’s 18 recommendations focus on reallocating investment, safer road design, lower speed limits, better training and strong political leadership.
This will require cross-departmental consensus led from the Cabinet Office and Downing Street, not just from the Department for Transport.

In the Commons on February 22, 2012, the Prime Minister said of The Times's ‘Cities Fit for Cycling’ campaign: “If we want to encourage the growth in cycling we’ve seen in recent years, we need to get behind campaigns like this.”

Now is the time to act on those words.

The rules of the Government's e-petition schemes essentially means that any which get 100,000 signatures will be "considered" for debate in Parliament. Possibly the politicians have run out of ideas and are now looking at the public for populist things, but there you go. Life in the digital age.

I have signed quite a few e-petitions and this is the first time I have seen a response provided at this stage and it makes me wonder why.

Read the summary and recommendations here.
The response is:

As this e-petition has received more than 10,000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response:

The Government welcomes the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) inquiry and report. We will look at the recommendations carefully and respond in due course. The Coalition Government takes cycling very seriously and is committed to leading the country in getting more people cycling, more safely, more often.

Many of the recommendations in the report mirror those shared with Government by the Cycling Stakeholder Forum members. In the last 12 months we have allocated £107m of new money to support safety and community links that encourage more cycling. This is over and above the £600m Local Sustainable Transport Fund where 94 out of the 96 projects contain a cycling element. We have also introduced measures to make cycling safer, including flexibility for Local Authorities to introduce 20mph speed limits in residential areas and a process for applications for further rural 40mph zones. Furthermore, we have made it easier to install Trixi mirrors to improve the visibility of cyclists at junctions.

The Department for Transport has been co-ordinating a cross-departmental effort to promote cycling, in particular with Defra and the Department of Health. For example Transport and Health Ministers shared a platform at the Leicester Active Travel Conference in November to promote better working between public health and transport planners. We now plan to take this further by establishing a project team involving more departments and stakeholders.

We are working on making our towns and cities more cycle friendly. In January we announced the Cycle City Ambition Grants and have invited cities outside London to bid for a share of a £42m grant. The guidance requires cities to demonstrate local leadership and set out a 10 year ambition for more cycling. Successful bids will receive a cycling budget equivalent to £10 per head, which is the level of support the APPCG inquiry report recommends. The £42m grant will also benefit National Parks who have been asked to develop schemes to improve cycling facilities to help support cycling as a fun leisure activity as well as a healthy way of getting around. We will announce the successful bids in the summer.

This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.

Trixi mirror at Southwark Bridge Road - cutting edge stuff.
Image based on Google Streetview.
So, what we have is clearly a politically-arrange statement to explain just how much work the Government has been putting in which is essentially sodding around a bit with speed limit guidance, inadvertently demonstrating how poor funding actually is for cycling infrastructure and mentioning a forum who very few people have ever heard of (the did come up with a reasonable strategy, but it doesn't seem to have been publicised by the Government - perhaps would mean take leadership and funding things). Oh, and I mustn't forget Trixi mirrors which will remove all left turning conflicts and traffic signals (clue - they are not very good!)

No, what we have here seems to be typical political spin going on about a few "big" projects and some tweaks to guidance. Nothing about what they are going to, nothing about the rumoured Office for Active Travel.

Perhaps the idea is to fool us into thinking that they have considered the petition so it doesn't reach 100,000 signatures, so they don't need to debate it and so we all need to sign it here.

This all looks like business as usual to me from the damned politicians and their blasted constant spin.


  1. Assuming a generous 3/4 of the grant will benefit non-parks projects, that’s 3 million people benefitting from a £10 per head investment. OR, essentially, 50p per head of UK population! That’s 2% of the Dutch spend! – WOW

  2. It was all I could do to not use my full range of nautical phrases and words!