CEC estimates that there 8% of journeys in Crewe are by cycle. This is higher than the national average, but this actually represents a decline; we used to cycle more than Oxford who now boast 28%. As the Cheshire East transport policy points out, Crewe is small and flat like Holland, so why don’t we enjoy their cycling success of more than 40%? Dutch leaders made a political commitment to cycling after the 1970s oil crisis and a rise in road accidents. We have fuel debt in town, do we have to wait for a cycling fatality?
We just want an aspiration of 20% for short urban journeys within town. This would be in keeping with the All Change for Crewe vision, regenerating the town as a green, modern, forward thinking one on par with the best British stories of great town planning. It is immediately obvious how effective cycling provision could contribute to the All Change for Crewe aims, but this rests on the ‘quality image and perception of leadership’ at all levels, as David Cameron explained this week when he announced his cycling funding saying; ‘Cycling is high, we want to see it soar... business, local government developers road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in this’.
Maria Eagle, shadow transport minister commented; ‘The reality is that cyclists have been an afterthought for this Government and that instead of the vision and leadership needed, David Cameron and his ministers have let cyclists down.”
Boris Johnson has used cycling as a leadership vehicle, aspiring to £10 per head investment
CEC would have to invest approx £700k per year in Crewe.
Compare this with the estimated costs of widening Sydney Road bridge and improving Crewe Green roundabout, (both snags incidentally caused by increased vehicle traffic). Creating cycle infrastructure represents a fraction of the £27.9m FfT road funding that the Crewe area has been awarded recently.
Boris has a strategic view, expecting London's population to grow by about 15%. CEC is wanting Crewe to grow exponentially. Many of the objections to growth are to increased traffic and pollution, which could be avoided with proper cycling infrastructure. Where paths are not possible, Cheshire East has already implemented very creative solutions, such as the Poynton Shared Space, which was recommended by the Institute of Civil Engineers this month.
The cost of obesity, health and wellbeing are rising constantly. We would expect CEC officers to recognise this challenge and to be preparing the way for joint working with public health to encourage active lifestyles.