THE council will receive only half of the money it bid for to support cycling in the county after facing weeks of criticism.
Worcestershire County Council has been awarded £135,500 from the government’s active travel bid to support several cycling and walking routes – half of the £271,000 it initially asked for.
The bid to the Department for Transport was called ‘poor and inadequate’ by city cycling campaigners Bike Worcester and dismissed “for entirely missing the point” of the aims of the funding.
County councillor Matthew Jenkins criticised the “lack of ambition” in the bid and said losing out on some of the money did not bode well for the council’s next bid for a further £1 million.
The government money will allow the council to make some improvements to cycling routes between Fernhill Heath and Blackpole, Malvern and Worcester as well as others in the rest of the county.
In a statement, Cllr Alan Amos, cabinet member for highways at the county council, said: “The council wholeheartedly supports active travel, and support all forms of transport.
“Improving our road network goes hand in hand with improving our cycling network, and remains one of our key priorities.
“This funding will allow us to continue the progress we’ve already made in this area.”
Cllr Amos said the government money would also allow the council provide secure cycle parking in new areas where none currently exists and help provide digital signs for cycling and walking routes.
Just last week, Cllr Amos told councillors the cycling bid was “full, extensive and exciting” and reiterated the council had always been pro-cycling.
“We support all forms of transport, unlike some, we are pro-car but also pro-cycling and walking and pro-bus,” he said.
Earlier this month, Bike Worcester said the bid should have been used to create extra space on the roads for cyclists – including pop-up cycle lanes, pavement widening, safer junctions and bus-and-bike-only areas – but the bid was “inadequate” and had “entirely missed the point” of the funding.
Redditch MP and government transport minister Rachel Maclean had written to Cllr Amos welcoming the council’s bid but stressed public transport – particularly buses – could not be the only option and the “diverse” county would benefit from a better-connected cycle network.
Cllr Amos faced further criticism for calling the growth in popularity of cycling during lockdown “just a phase,” saying the council needed to focus on all forms of transport.