Bikeability: not again!

bikeabilityIt seems to be an annual event. The Economy & Environment Committee gets presented with the need to fund Cambridgeshire’s Bikeability program. That’s the program which teaches primary school children how to ride bikes safely and confidently on the road.

There’s a shortfall of funding for Bikeability of £38K this year and this is projected to grow to £50K because the program is popular.

Coincidentally the program featured in three committee meetings this week.

The first was the Highways & Community Infrastructure Committee which is responsible inter alia for road safety and has been instrumental in establishing the Road Safety Hub which brings all road safety issues together. Except that is for Bikeability which is managed elsewhere. That appears to be an omission and the Committee agreed to ‘note and endorse the potential for Bikeability to be incorporated in the Road Safety Hub’.

At the end of the week the Health Committee met and during its finance and performance review it noted that it contributes significant funding, £105K, towards road safety under its ‘memorandum of understanding’. In the spirit of the paying the piper and calling the tune this Committee agreed to signal its support for the continuing funding of Bikeability.

In the middle was the Economy & Environment Committee which is where for some bizarre reason Bikeability sits. It’s managed by the officer responsible for developing the cycle network. He, it happens to be a bloke, brought a paper to the Committee pointing out that the program is not fully funded and a previous idea to secure sponsorship has not been successful.

So we’re now in the position of having a good program which it is believed will reduce cycle accidents, it might even prevent one or two serious injuries and deaths, but we don’t have enough money to keep it going.

The response of the Committee was incredible. It told the officer responsible to write to parish and town councils and ask for money. As if he hasn’t got enough to do. And if that fails what next?

I’ve got a problem with the thinking here. Why should we make the delivery of a program which is supportive of so many of the Council’s priorities (active lifestyles, reduced pollution, more cycling etc) conditional on somebody else paying for it?

We’re shelling out £13 million extra for the Ely Southern Bypass and in February this year Council voted in favour of a 2.99% council tax rise with £3.652 million to be put into a ‘smoothing reserve’. Surely it should be possible to find £50K to save children’s lives?

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