British chancellor George Osborne has just unveiled the 2016 spring budget. Inside that red briefcase were a few surprises – as well as a few disappointments – for cyclists in the UK.
Of key interest to cyclists are spending announcements for transport infrastructure, a new tax on sugary drinks, and a rise in insurance premiums.
1. More money for transport and infrastructure – but no mention of cycling
Noticeably absent from the budget was any specific mention of money for cycling. Osborne committed £230 million for road improvements in the North of England, specifically mentioning the M62 motorway, but no details were forthcoming as to whether this might extend to the development of new cycling infrastructure or desperately needed improvement to current networks. Other transport development mentioned included new rail lines, notably HS3 between Manchester and Leeds, and Crossrail 2 in London.
The dearth of commitments to cycling is something that British Cycling has flagged up. “The Budget’s focus on major transport infrastructure will be a big test of how the planned investment in roads and rail can integrate cycling.” said Martin Key, British Cycling’s campaigns manager. “We need to see action on the Prime Minister’s clear and public commitment to cycle-proofing, meaning that cycling is designed in at the start of all transport developments. This will not only reduce congestion on our roads and trains at rush hour, it will also tackle other major issues facing Britain such as the obesity crisis, climate change and fuel emissions.”
British Cycling called for ‘cycle-proofing’ of all infrastructure projects from the outset
2. A reduction in the Severn Bridge crossing toll
3. Rising Insurance Premium Tax
4. A new soft drinks tax
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