I suspect there's a better action that local campaigners can take than comment on the draft plan, and that's to ensure their local authority submits an Expression of Interest to work in partnership with government. The Cycling Delivery Plan asks interested local authorities to sign up this autumn - so quick action is needed.
The government is playing its localism card, saying that access to resources will only arrive in an area if the local authority also signs up to doubling the number of trip stages cycled by 2025 (hardly a challenging target for even the most dilatory of councils - not least because it's ten years hence).
Partner authorities can expect government to provide access to a range of tools and incentives that will support them towards achieving their cycling and walking ambitions. These include priority access to new funding streams, support via the Department for Transport's Active Travel Consortium, access to support in implementing cycling and walking plans, including to an extended Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) knowledge sharing network, and a recognised mechanism for reporting operational barriers to delivering cycling and walking initiatives back to government.Basically the government appear only to be interested in increasing cycling if the local authorities in England also want to. It'll be easier and cheaper for the 326 local authorities to submit an Expression of Interest if there's a basic model to copy, so I've drafted one, and inserted it in red into Annex B, below:
Annex B - Partnership Projects
Expressions of Interest
B.1 The Department for Transport is calling for expressions of interest from local authorities who would be interested in setting a long term ambition for walking and cycling in their area, and who, as part of that ambition would like to work in partnership with government to secure its delivery.
B.2 Expressions of interest in working with government on partnership projects to increase levels of walking and cycling should include the following information:
An indication of the local authority's level of ambition for cycling and
walking over a defined period;
We want to double the number of cycling stages made in our local authority by 2025 and to have another 7% of children aged 5 to 10 who usually walk to school. (This is in line with the government's admirable ambition)
Their expectation of government's role in the partnership, and how
they would like to work with government;
We'd like the government to adopt a document based on the CROW one used in the Netherlands, or potentially the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) if they're any good when they are finally published.
We'd like the government to fund the work needed in our local authority to implement the changes.
We will commit to deliver the changes when the funding is handed over.
Plans for engaging with key stakeholders and securing an influential
cycling and walking champion;
We'll promote changes to encourage walking and cycling with the government, schools, businesses, NHS, residents and people who travel through our local authority. We'll appoint a cabinet member as our champion.
A demonstration of the local authority's commitment to door-to-door journeys, and to creating safe cycling and walking provision through cycle proofing new transport infrastructure;
It is possible to make a journey from any front door in our local authority to any other front door. The government will understand it seems harder to achieve this with back doors that often lead into fenced gardens. However one can get to the front door from the back door and hence to other front doors and in turn back doors. We trust that is sufficient. When we build new transport infrastructure we will make sure at the design stage that it includes a walking and cycling option
An outline programme plan, including, where relevant, a planned and funded cycling and walking investment programme.
We will roll out measures in accordance with the CROW / LCDS making clear to our residents this is at the behest of national government, starting with new builds, refurbishments and the most densely populated areas.
B.3 Expressions of interest can be submitted on an ad hoc basis, and local authorities will be contacted by a member of the Cycling Policy Team to discuss their proposal.
Here it is. We and, doubtless, the other 325 local authorities look forward to being contacted by a member of the Cycling Policy Team. Out of interest, how many staff does this team have?
B.4 Submissions should be made to Walking.Cycling@dft.gsi.gov.uk.
I hope that Sustrans, CTC, British Cycling, Cycling Embassy of Great Britain and Living Streets will be asking their members to apply pressure to their local authority to complete the form.
I imagine the government will maintain a quickly and regularly updated website showing which local authorities have yet to submit their expression of interest.