Campaigners have accused the public company responsible for HS2 of ‘putting lives at risk and costing the taxpayer more’ by reneging on legally binding commitments made by the Government to ensure cycle safety.
The claim came in a submission from charity Cycling UK to the parliamentary committee considering the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill, which covers Phase 2A of the planned line.
Animation depicting a green bridge along the HS2 route
Roger Geffen, Cycling UK’s policy director, told the committee that communities will be split and public funding wasted if HS2 Ltd continues to ‘cut corners’ and design out cycling provision, particularly from bridges and tunnels across the HS2 route.
The charity said that in 2014 the Government gave assurances that HS2 Ltd would discuss how to provide cycle friendly conditions in HS2-related highway works, something that required it to engage with the Government’s advisory Cycle Proofing Working Group.
He said that HS2 Ltd had first attended the group in September 2017, where it ‘admitted it had no money to cycle proof any Phase 1 works’.
Cycling UK said it is now seeking stronger assurances that HS2 Ltd will adopt best practice design standards and apply them consistently along the West Midlands to Crewe corridor.
The evening Cycling UK attended the committee, it received a proposed new assurance from HS2 Ltd which offered to ‘have due regard to the principles of the relevant up-to-date cycling standards and guidance’.
Commenting after his committee appearance, Mr Geffen said: ‘Offering vaguely to think about something HS2 Ltd should be doing anyway is pretty pathetic.’
He made comparison to the ‘good design standards’ of Transport for London and the Welsh Government.
An HS2 spokesperson said: ‘To help ensure HS2 leaves a positive road safety legacy for local communities £36.5m has been made available through the Road Safety Fund for Phase 1 and 2A, ensuring areas along the route benefit from high quality road and cycle safety projects.
‘HS2 is engaging with various organisations to identify opportunities where cycling can be incorporated in the design for the UK’s new High Speed railway.’