West Limpley District Council has admitted to creating 23 miles of cycle lanes in order to save money. The council has previously been praised for its commitment to active travel (walking and cycling), but it now seems that the real motive was purely financial.
A council spokesman said that the road maintenance budget had been under great pressure. The transport department had suggested that cycle lanes would be cheaper to maintain as bicycles cause less wear and tear than cars and trucks. Changing existing roads into cycle lanes was forecast to yield some small savings on resurfacing and repairs, spread over many years.
The council then realised that it could install enforcement cameras, and fine drivers who strayed into the cycle lanes. Having issued fines totalling over £60,000 on the first day for one single cycle lane camera, the council knew it was onto a winner. In the next three months, it created 23 miles of cycle lanes and installed 300 enforcement cameras. It now has an enormous income from fines, which it is using to increase Councillors’ expense allowances. And to spend on social care. Probably.
Cycling groups are unimpressed. They say that the cycle lanes are in the wrong places, don’t join up and don’t help people out of cars and onto bikes. The council’s response is that (a) they don’t care, because the money is rolling in, and (b) that it’s difficult to take anyone seriously when they are wearing that much lycra.
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