A number of big businesses – including Santander, Sky, Orange, GlaxoSmithKline, National Grid, British Land and The AA – have formed a national group with British Cycling and other cycling organisations to urge politicians to form an integrated transport strategy for cycling. The group is known as Choose Cycling.
In its first joint call for action, the group has written an open letter to party leaders asking for commitments on funding and leadership ahead of the general election in May.
The letter stresses that political leaders need to be bolder on cycling on a national scale. The network is asking political parties to commit to a target of 10 percent of trips to be made by bike within 10 years and to ring-fence 5 percent of Britain’s transport spend every year on designing cycling back into roads and junctions.
The big businesses – three of which are FTSE 100 companies – told party leaders "there are clear benefits for our staff, our customers and our businesses in putting cycling at the heart of transport policy."
The open letter stresses that "this is not about cycling, it is about logical, sustainable, every-day transport solutions that are good for us all."
It adds: "People who cycle regularly have fewer days off sick, are more motivated and suffer from fewer of the serious conditions caused by a lack of physical activity. More cycling can help retail businesses on our high streets thrive. Studies in New York City – on the streets where cycling lanes have been installed – have seen retail sales go up by 150%. Cycling to work is good for business and productivity."
The big businesses told politicians "we need to design cycling back into our road network."
British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, said:
“We’re delighted that so many major businesses and nationally recognised brands have come on board to join the Choose Cycling network. The breadth of sectors involved demonstrates that this isn’t just about cycling, it’s about creating safer, more pleasant places to live and work – there is no logical argument against it.
“We’re just weeks away from a general election and now is the opportunity for party leaders to confirm some solid commitments on cycling in their manifestos. We’re at a turning point for cycling. As if it isn’t enough that active travel organisations are calling for bold decisions on cycling, now we have the backing of major British brands – with more due to come on board with us in the coming weeks. This isn’t an issue that is going to go away. Party leaders must demonstrate that they are taking cycling seriously as a legitimate tool to transform Britain’s towns and cities for the better.”
Matt Wilson, GlaxoSmithKline’s Head of Environmental Sustainability, said:
“As a healthcare company, we place as much importance on the health and wellbeing of our employees as the medicines, vaccines and consumer products that we supply to patients and consumers across the world. We have an established and successful cycle scheme in the UK for our employees but believe that with further investment and commitment from the government, GSK and other companies could take this even further, bringing significant health benefits to more people, while protecting the environment.”
The Choose Cycling network is urging the government to create and distribute uniform design guidance, put together in consultation with world experts. Such guidance should be followed by all local authorities by 2016, says Choose Cycling.
Other businesses involved with Choose Cycling include Halfords, Cyclescheme and Madison from the bicycle industry. Also involved are Sustrans, CTC, London Cycling Campaign and the Bicycle Association.