As some local residents have been lobbying for a cycle path along the A1034, NPC thought it would be helpful to provide some background information and the reasons why it has chosen not to lead the campaign.
Back in 2016/207, the Parish Councils of South Cave, Market Weighton, Brough Newbald and Hotham lobbied East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) for the construction of a pedestrian/cyclist facility between Market Weighton and Brough.
Officers in the ERYC’s Civil Engineering Services team provided a cost estimate to construct the requested facility. A ‘trod’, perhaps constructed of crushed aggregate on a basic sub-surface, would not be considered due to distance involved, its unsuitability for cyclists, its poor weather performance and the high ongoing maintenance costs.
The estimate for a 2m wide off-road shared use facility of bituminous construction, connecting and improving existing provision between Market Weighton and Brough, was £2,787,400. This was a very large sum of money and ERYC said that they did not at that time have funding for such a major undertaking.
Funding for new footways, cycleways and road safety projects as well as support for bus and rail provision generally comes from the Integrated Transport Block Grant provided to ERYC by the Department for Transport through the Local Transport Plan (LTP) process. This grant was reduced by 50% for the 2011-2015 programme and by a further 40% in 2016-2017. The LTP budget at the time was around £1.6m each year. This would have meant that the construction of an off-road facility along the A1034 would require the full LTP budget for nearly two years, meaning no other transport improvements could be made at other locations across the East Riding over this period.
Against this background of continuing austerity and limited budgets, ERYC said that it had to focus the available funds on those projects which provide benefit for the greatest number of people, whilst offering excellent value for money. Whilst national publicity has implied that additional funding has been made available for cycle infrastructure, in rural areas such as ours the opposite is true.
On this basis ERYC said that it was unable to consider a facility along the A1034 at that time.
Occasionally alternative sources of funding do become available and ERYC officers constantly monitor any opportunities to submit bids for additional external funding, although no suitable funding sources are currently available for a scheme such as this. Increasingly these competitive bidding processes require strong evidence of support for economic development and of suppressed demand.
It is very unfortunate that government announcements since May 2020 regarding funding for cycling facilities have been lacking in practical veracity. In short they have misled the public and raised expectations beyond any reasonable bounds.
ERYC did bid successfully for the first tranche of the Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF) and received its maximum allocation. £123,000. The funding was set based on the number of people commuting by bus in the 2011 census. This was because the money had to be spent to encourage walking and cycling as an alternative to public transport. Consequently the bulk of the funding went to major cities. The money made available was not the £2bn frequently referred to, it was about £45m
ERYC’s £123,000 was mainly focused on improving pedestrian and cycle access to Castle Hill Hospital, the East Riding’s largest NHS facility and local Covid-19 treatment centre. They also did some minor works on existing routes.
ERYC has been invited to bid for a tranche 2 of the EATF. The priorities remain broadly similar except that the government now wishes to see parity between spending on walking and cycling. This is because many highway authorities spent almost all of tranche 1 on cycling, although ERYC didn’t. The government also want to see support for re-opening businesses if possible.
ERYC’s maximum allocation this time could be £492,000. Even if all of this was allocated to a route from South Cave alongside the A1034, it would be insufficient to complete the work.
ERYC is hoping that further funding will be made available in due course but how it can be spent will probably be determined by whatever instructions the government gives them.
Set against the 70% reduction in the funding provided to ERYC for new walking and cycling facilities since 2010, what has been announced so far is largely insignificant.
Therefore, any cycle route/footpath along the A1034 would need to be privately funded. At a cost of almost £2.8 million, much as the cycle way/footpath would be welcome, the Parish Council did not feel it would be achievable. Even if it was, the Parish Council always has to look at the cost/benefit ratios and this project would cost a lot when compared to the number of people that it would benefit.
Members are concerned that creating a safe cycle route along the A1034 would be hard because of how narrow the road is. There are other ways of walking and cycling between the places the A1034 connects. While these routes may be longer, they offer a safer alternative.
This decision will be reviewed if new information comes to light or more funding is available.