As the Government announces a £2 billion fund to create a new era for cycling and walking, the County Council’s Conservatives need to demonstrate more commitment not to miss the ride.
Over the weekend, Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP, announced a £2 billion fund for cycling and walking to reduce the number of people using their cars or public transport as they return to work. This included a £250 million budget for emergency measures to enable socially distanced travel, such as pop-up cycle lanes and widened footpaths.
While not new funding – it was part of a package of funding announced earlier in the year – this marks a potentially exciting development for those wishing to enable people out of their cars. However, so far, Gloucestershire County Council has refused to engage in any such proposals.
This was exemplified when the Chief Executive, instructed by the Conservative leadership at Shire Hall, publicly stated last week that the County Council would do nothing to prevent car journeys returning to peak levels and that they have no plans for new cycle lanes.
Cllr Iain Dobie, the cycling and walking champion for Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats, responded to this disappointing news, saying:
‘Promoting a new era for cycling and walking may sound like a “nice to have” at a time when so many in our communities are tragically losing their lives – however, as people begin to return to work, modal shift is going to be essential to enable socially distanced travel and protect our residents from the long-term harm of air pollution and inactivity.
‘Unfortunately, so far we have seen nothing from the County Council’s Conservatives to suggest they have any plans to match the aspirations of their own Government – and the few plans they do have are many years away in the pipeline, meaning there will be no response to the current crisis.
‘The residents of Gloucestershire demand better than Conservative dither and delay – a tactic which, nationally, has already cost the country too much.’