London Assembly Member Jenny Jones argues that a recent cut in the level of City Hall funding for borough transport schemes will see valued schemes axed and risks slowing the take-up of cycling in the capital.
The reason why a 29% cut in local transport budgets hardly makes a splash in the regional media is because the amounts seem so small. The amount the Mayor gives the local authorities will be falling from a high point of £169m last year to £120m in 2013/14.
This will warrant barely a mention in the annual report of Transport for London which will instead feature multi billion pound projects like tube upgrades and Crossrail. Yet, it is this local transport funding pot which is meant to deliver on numerous policies within the Mayor’s transport strategy, including an additional 840,000 cycle journeys a day by 2025. A figure which tops even the projected passenger numbers for Crossrail.
Local transport funding is divided into four main streams. The Mayor has safeguarded the funding for pot holes and bridge strengthening. The amount available for major projects has even risen slightly this coming year. Which means that the funding for everything else (a category called ‘Corridors, Neighbourhoods and Supporting Measures’), is squeezed even harder.
My calculation is that there is an £18m drop in such funding this year, from £101m to £83m. Small change for TfL, but an 18% cut in one year means closure for numerous local projects.
There are another two years of cuts we know about, followed by a final budget allocation which has yet to be announced for 2014/15. If the Mayor continues to safeguard funding for potholes & major projects, then the budget for road safety, cycling etc will be barely over half of what it was last year.
The impact will be felt at local level as councillors make hard choices about whether to continue children’s cycle training in schools, or pay for a new crossing on a busy road.
Some will choose to make car clubs a priority and to stop expanding bus lanes. Others will cut back on cycle parking in order to pay for their safe routes to school schemes. Local people can have a big influence on what is cut and what gets funding, but the decisions will become harder as the funding shrinks.
One of my concerns remains cycling in outer London, which is where two thirds of the new cyclists are meant to come from, according to TfLs own estimates. The Mayor of London has already cut the money for the London Cycling Network (involving hundreds of local cycle lanes) in order to help pay for cycle hire in central London.
This further squeeze on local transport funding will bring to an end any hope of getting large numbers of new cyclists in outer London. And they called Ken a zone one Mayor …