traffic city centre

A coalition of UK businesses, including GlaxoSmithKline, Santander, National Grid, Sky and the Automobile Association, has called for increased national spending on cycling infrastructure. The FT reports that in a letter to David Cameron, Ed Miliband and five other party leaders, the companies called for action:

  • 5% of the UK’s annual transport expenditure to be ringfenced for cycling infrastructure;
  • national design standards for a cycle-friendly road network by 2016;
  • a national policy on cycling to avoid a “hotchpotch” of transport infrastructure
  • and a target for 10% of all trips to be made by bicycle within the next decade.

About 2% of all journeys are now made by bicycle, but there has been slow progress in improving roads – as the writer has found on moving to the otherwise perfect Bournville.

The FT notes that London has led the way in improving cycling infrastructure after mounting outrage over the deaths of cyclists on the capital city’s roads. Last year, Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, announced plans for “cycle superhighways” running across the city that would accommodate 3,000 cyclists an hour on the east-to-west track alone.

The costs of congestion – here excluding health damaging air quality

Edmund King, president of the AA approved: “The benefits can work both ways. If you get more people cycling that means potentially less traffic congestion”.

A few months ago the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) recorded the findings of INRIX, Inc., an international provider of real-time traffic information, transportation analytics and connected driver services, announced that the combined annual cost of traffic gridlock in the UK economy will see the largest overall increase in Europe and the US, rising from $20.5 billion in 2013 to $33.4 billion in 2030 (63% increase).

inrix traffic graphic

The health concern didn’t prevail . . .

For many years Birmingham FOE campaigners have said that cycling can provide a large part of the solution. In 2011 the council produced an air quality action plan which highlighted pollution produced by road traffic as a major problem. Its report stressed the problem of nitrogen dioxide, which mainly comes from road vehicles, and highlighted a study which concluded that long term exposure causes lung scarring and emphysema.

Will the business case?

INRIX points out that during peak periods business trips make up 12% of road traffic and freight makes up 7% of road traffic in the UK. There are higher freighting and business fees from company vehicles idling in traffic. Companies have to pay their drivers more whilst stuck in traffic and also pick up the bill for fuel. These higher delivery costs are passed on to the consumer.

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