Press release

Government shifts cycling up a gear

A nationwide drive to promote cycling in cities and national parks across England will be launched today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Cyclists in a city. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Images.

Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Images.

The Prime Minister announces the biggest ever single injection of cash for the country alongside plans to make roads safer for those on two wheels.

£77 million will be divided between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich, while the New Forest, Peak District, South Downs and Dartmoor will each share a slice of £17 million funding for national parks. With local contributions, the total new funding for cycling is £148 million between now and 2015.

The announcement includes a commitment from the government to cut red tape that can stifle cycle-friendly road design and to encourage changes to the way roads are built or altered. Councils will be expected to up their game to deliver infrastructure that takes cycling into account from the design stage.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high - now we want to see cycling soar. Our athletes have shown they are among the best in the world and we want to build on that, taking our cycling success beyond the arena and onto the roads, starting a cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists.

This government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle as well as encouraging far more people to take it up and business, local government, developers, road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in helping to achieve this.

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Investment in ‘cycle proofing’

New trunk road schemes that have a significant impact on cyclists, such as junction improvements or road-widening, will be ‘cycle-proofed’ so they can be navigated confidently by the average cyclist.

Significant junction upgrades and other improvements will help cyclists at 14 locations on the trunk road network where major roads can prove an obstacle for journeys by bike. £5 million will be invested in upgrades this year and a further £15 million will be invested in 2015 to 2016, with plans in place for many more similar schemes.

This commitment to improved cycling facilities is intended to put Britain on a level-footing with countries known for higher levels of cycling like Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

We have seen a significant growth in the number of cyclists in London over the last few years. But cycling shouldn’t be confined to the capital. Today’s announcement shows we are absolutely committed to boosting cycling in cities and the countryside across the whole of England. I want to help open up cycling to more people and these measures to make cycling safer on our roads are an important part of that.

Making cycling safer in urban areas

The Prime Minister announced allocations from the government’s fund to make cycling easier and safer for people in the following urban areas which include the three largest cities outside of London:

  • Greater Manchester £20 million
  • West Yorkshire £18.1 million
  • Birmingham £17 million
  • West of England £7.8 million
  • Newcastle £5.7 million
  • Cambridge £4.1 million
  • Norwich £3.7 million
  • Oxford £0.8 million

This funding means that investment in cycling in the 8 cities is now in excess of £10 per head per year, as recommended by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s recent report. This will help these cities deliver a surge in cycling similar to that seen in the capital.

National parks and increasing cycling participation

In addition the Prime Minister announced:

  • funding has been agreed at 4 national parks - the Peak District (£5.0 million) Dartmoor (£4.4 million), the South Downs (£3.8 million) and the New Forest (£3.6 million)
  • a feasibility study to look into creating a new national cycleway broadly following the route of the HS2 rail line from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, linking communities and rail stations to work, schools and shops as well as countryside and tourist attractions along the way
  • the creation of a new national School Awards Scheme to recognise schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting cycling and walking; the UK cycle industry, led by the Bicycle Association, has volunteered to work with government to sponsor this award
  • the government is extending its commitment to support Bikeability cycle training into 2015 to 2016

Helping local authorities help cyclists

The government has already made it easier for local authorities in England to help cyclists. Measures include removing bureaucracy to introduce 20 miles per hour (mph) speed restrictions, which make streets safer for all road users.

All of the cities receiving funding today have either already implemented, or are looking to expand, the network of 20 mph zones through the cycle ambition funding, with Norfolk and Cambridge looking to introduce extensive area-wide 20 mph schemes. Similar work has been done to make it easier to introduce 40 mph limits in rural areas.

Improving junctions, signals and cycle lanes

The government has also made it easier to introduce ‘Trixi’ mirrors at junctions so that HGV drivers can see cyclists more easily and contraflow measures so that cyclists can use one-way streets to avoid the busiest roads and junctions.

Additionally, the government is currently working with highway authorities to trial a raft of measures to improve roads for cyclists.

These include mini-signals at cyclists’ eye height to give more targeted information to cyclists and the possibility of a head start at junctions along with filter signals for cyclists as an alternative way of providing a head start at traffic lights. There are also trials of different roundabout designs to reduce the speed of vehicles to provide a safer route for cyclists and options for larger advanced stop lines, to accommodate the growth in cycling and make it safer for cyclists at junctions.

Further work is underway to make it even easier for councils to install mandatory cycle lanes and contraflow cycle lanes, cutting costs and complexity for councils. The government is also looking to remove the requirement for a lead-in lane for cyclists at advanced stop lines, making it easier for highway authorities to install advanced stop lines at junctions.

The Department for Transport is also arranging a conference in the autumn aiming to encourage local authorities to deliver better cycle infrastructure.

Details of funding and winning bids

Greater Manchester

DfT funding £20 million

Local contribution £11.1 million

The funding will kick start Velocity 2025, which will, over time, create a city-wide cycle network. Initially, as part of the CCAG funding, this will involve a series of high quality cycle lanes that will lead from the city centre out to the M60 like spokes of a bicycle wheel. Spokes will have a Cycle and Ride station located several miles from the city centre, allowing cyclists to leave their bikes and swap onto Metrolink or a local rail service for the last leg of their journey if they wish. As part of a door-to-door approach the proposals involve the introduction of 20 mph zones in some residential areas adjacent to the cycle ‘spokes’ to enable safer access to the cycleways. Greater Manchester’s vision is to double the number of cycle journeys within 5 years and to double them again by 2025. The government funding will bring 56 km of new or improved cycle paths and predicted health and wellbeing savings of around £7 million a year.

West Yorkshire

DfT funding £18.1 million

Local contribution £11.2 million

Building on Yorkshire’s hosting the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in 2014, a package of cycle infrastructure improvements is proposed. A new segregated Super Highway from east Leeds to Bradford City Centre will be delivered with new connections in Leeds City Centre to provide continuity to other radial routes. In addition new secure cycle parking facilities are included and the Leeds Liverpool Canal Tow Path will be upgraded. At 14 miles this will be the longest continuous cycleway in the north of England, connecting key employment and regeneration sites in both cities. The ambition in West Yorkshire is to triple current cycling levels and increase cycling to account for 12% of all journeys in the target areas.


DfT funding £17 million

Local contribution £7.3 million

Birmingham Cycle Revolution is a 20-year strategy to make cycling a mainstream form of transport across the city. It aims to have cycling accounting for 5% of all journeys within 10 years and 10% within 20 years. This fund will accelerate this ambition through the creation of the 1st phase of a city-wide strategic cycle route network along radial corridors initially extending 20 minutes cycling time from the city centre. Key features include 71 miles of new cycle routes, improvements to 59 miles of existing cycle routes, segregated cycle facilities, lower speed limits, off-road routes using canals and green spaces and secure cycle parking and supported by a programme of smarter choices measures.

West of England

DfT funding £7.8 million

Local contribution £3.3 million

Building on its previous successes, the West of England’s ambition is to increase cycling by 76% by 2016. The bid focuses on linking people to major employment opportunities across the city of Bristol. Central to this is a new pedestrian and cycle promenade running east to west across the city following the route of the River Avon and terminating at Bristol Temple Meads station, where a new enterprise zone aims to bring 17,000 new jobs to the city. The scheme will create five new or improved river crossings for cyclist. In addition the bid includes the Cribbs Causeway to Emerson’s Green trunk cycle route in the North Fringe of Bristol; and, the Seven Dials National Cycle Scheme in Bath City Centre.


DfT funding £5.7 million

Local contribution £6 million

Central to Newcastle’s bid is linking employment and training opportunities to new housing developments in Newcastle and to existing communities where people are currently least likely to cycle. Newcastle plans a network of 7 major cycle routes across the city making the best use of existing infrastructure and linking in with the major improvements currently underway in the city centre. This government investment will be supported by an Active Travel Centre where people can go for cycle maintenance, parking and information. Recognising the potential for cycling, almost a million of public health funding in Newcastle is being invested in this initiative. Newcastle’s vision is to achieve 12% of all journeys under 5 miles by bike in the next 10 years.


DfT funding £4.1 million

Local Contribution £4.1 million

Cambridge competes on a global scale as somewhere to live, work and invest. Congestion in the city is seen as one of the major risks to its future success and cycling is seen as an intrinsic part of the solution.

In 10 years’ time, Cambridge aims to have 40% of all journeys in the city by bike, bringing it in line with some of the best cycling cities in Europe.

The funding allocated today will create new, segregated cycle paths along some of Cambridge’s most used cycle routes and will also provide much improved cycling facilities to some of the major employment sites in the South Cambridgeshire District.

Local match funding will provide parking for 3,000 bicycles at Cambridge station and a new direct foot/cycle route between the station and the Cambridge Science Park - a major employment centre for the city that has a new station planned to open in 2015.


DfT funding £3.7 million

Local contribution £1.8 million

Norwich’s ambition is to use cycling as the catalyst to make the city even more liveable and prosperous. Working with the public health funding partners, the city aims to double cycling in the next 10 years, from an already high base. It will generate economic growth by connecting communities to centres of employment. At heart of its proposals is an eight mile cross-city route linking population centres to the locations of 51,500 existing and 12,500 planned jobs. Norwich’s targets are to increase the number of adults cycling once a week to 44% and adults cycling to work to 15% by 2023.


DfT funding £835,000

Local contribution £580,000

The scheme will remove one of the main barriers to cycling into and out of Oxford city centre, making The Plain roundabout safer and more attractive for both cyclists and pedestrians. The Plain roundabout is a busy 5-arm roundabout with a high level of bus traffic and a history of cyclist casualties. The scheme will reduce the width of the circulatory carriageway and improve the roundabout’s design to unlock access to the city for cyclists of all levels of experience. This scheme will supplement a wider package of measures both planned and existing to help the city’s cyclists.

Peak District

DfT funding £5 million

Local contribution £2.5 million

3.5 million people in the surrounding urban areas of Greater Manchester, Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent will have better access to the cycle ways of the Peak District. The scheme provides 4 new routes which will enhance the network of traffic free cycling in the Peak District. The programme aims to target public health in the cities that connect to the national park.


DfT funding 4.4 million

Local contribution £3.0 million

The funding will deliver major improvements to 93 miles of cycle ways, with a further 86 miles benefitting from smaller upgrades such as improved signage. The focus of the scheme is new family-friendly routes to and through the park, supported by cycling hubs and provisions for access by those with limited mobility.

South Downs

DfT funding £3.8 million

Local contribution £1.3 million

The scheme provides opportunities for leisure cycling for the 5 million people who live within an hour of the South Downs National Park. The scheme will focus on improving access to the National Park from major rail stations. 55km of new routes will be built across England’s most visited and densely populated National Park.

New Forest

DfT funding £3.6 million

Local contribution £2.2 million

The scheme focuses on a new network of cycle docking stations that will allow people to cycle between key attractions, communities and transport hubs, supported by a new family cycling centre adjacent to Brockenhurst station. The scheme will also work with tourism businesses to ensure high quality family cycling facilities are widely available.


The feasibility study into a cycle path broadly following the HS2 route will look into how existing footpaths or cycle tracks could be joined up or upgraded to create a single route between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. This could give benefits to people living along the HS2 route as well as encouraging tourism.

The study and its conclusions would be separate from ongoing work on HS2. This will give plans for cycle paths the flexibility to work to their own timetable. It will not be part of the HS2 Bill processes with no land-take or cost impacts.

More details on the work of this study and its timescales will be announced in due course.

Current cycling levels

Currently, only 2% of trips in the UK are made by bike, compared with 14% in Germany and almost a third in the Netherlands.

This is despite the fact that 43% of people own or have access to a bike in Britain and 38% of people could just as easily cycle for short trips than use a car.

There are huge variations in levels of cycling across our towns and cities. 47% of adults in Cambridge cycle at least once a week, compared with fewer than 5% in other areas.

According to statistics published by Sport England, the number of people cycling for sport and leisure has increased by 231,300 since 2005 to 2006, when London won the bid to host the Olympic Games.

Briefing on the government’s ambition for cycling

The briefing document on the government’s ambition for cycling provides more detail and summarises new funding and policy commitments that will support the increase in cycling.

Published 12 August 2013