A national cycling charity has accused the Government of hiding evidence from Parliament by suppressing a report that shows more money is needed to meet its flagship cycling target.
Cycling UK pointed out that last May the Government’s Gear Change document, launched by the prime minister, allocated £2bn for cycling and walking to meet its aims to double the number of cycling trips and increase walking by 2025.
Roger Geffen was awarded an MBE in 2015
Last month transport secretary Grant Shapps told the Transport Select Committee that this was enough to meet the targets, which were originally set out in the Department for Transport’s 2017 Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. Currently, cycling makes up just 2% of all trips in England.
Giving evidence to the committee on Wednesday, Cycling UK’s policy director, Roger Geffen MBE, said he disagreed with Mr Shapps’ assessment and claimed that an unpublished report commissioned by the DfT shows that the cash is only a fraction of what is needed - between £6bn and £8bn over the next four years.
He told MPs: ‘The Government has sat on research over the last 14 months, and our understanding is that it shows £2bn is only about a quarter to a third of what is needed to meet the Government’s own targets to double cycling and increase walking by 2025.
‘It’s really important the Government is clear about what its targets are and that it publishes the research which shows whether the funding is adequate to hit their targets and then act on the findings of the research as it sets its budgets for cycling and walking in the Spending Review.’
He added: ‘It is very disappointing that spending next year will be actually less on cycling and walking as things stand than what it was last year. We’re going in the wrong direction rather than boosting local authorities’ capacity to scale up their abilities to spend at the levels we need to be spending if we’re going to meet the Government’s targets.’
Mr Geffen also said the Government should launch the promised inspectorate Active Travel England, outlined in Gear Change, to assist local authorities and increase their capacity to spend cash allocations effectively.
A DfT spokesperson told Transport Network: 'The department is undertaking work to assess the investment required to meet future cycling and walking aims. This will inform future spending reviews and will be set out in the next Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.
'We remain fully committed to investing in active travel to get people across the country moving again. We are providing record levels of investment, including £2 billion of dedicated funding over five years, as well as providing funding from a wider range of other transport and growth initiatives.'
Separately the Scottish Government has allocated £1.79m from its active travel budget to support 173 organisations across the country.
The cash will come from Cycling Scotland’s Cycling Friendly programme and will see 148 employers, community groups, campuses and schools share £1,464,000. A further £234,622 was awarded to 13 registered social housing providers and £96,380 was awarded through the Cycling Friendly NHS Worker Fund to enable staff at eight health boards access bikes and support during lockdown.