Further to our story of 16th November, a profile in todays Guardian reveals that Digby Jones, the new CBI chief, has more cycling miles under his belt than we realised: he once pedalled from Lands End to John OGroats, raising £218 000 for charity.
Of more significance, however, is the CBI chiefs views on integrated transport. He wants to see the government get serious about improving public transport.
From The Guardian, November 20th:
Where I do believe we must hold the governments feet to the fire is on the delivery of integrated transport policy.
Like the government, he is anxious to avoid being portrayed as anti-car but he is adamant that action is needed to stimulate good, safe, clean public transport across the country. Its not just railways, its park and ride schemes in the cities, its metro lines, regional airports a complete integrated policy. In that respect I believe the government has got to deliver and the CBI must test them on it regularly.
Once a decent network of public transport is in place, he would favour taxes on car parking in cities... I would be in favour of sme fiscal incentive to discourage car use.
Digby didnt specifically mention bikes but greater emphasis on transport modes other than the car will always benefit cycling. Restricting car use in city centres may make most people take the bus or the tube, but a fair percentage will go Dutch and take the bike.
So, having somebody at the CBI echoing the governments message that integrated transport is good for business (congestion costs billions per year in lost time, perished goods and missed meetings) can only be a good thing for cycling, and sales of cycles.
The BA or CPAG should arrange a meeting with him to talk through the benefits of getting companies to instal pro-bicycle policies. Cycling employees are good employees: theyre fit so take less days off work, and bikes dont get stuck in traffic so cycling employees always get to work on time.
And perhaps Sustrans can get the CBI to back their Safe Routes to Schools initiative? If children cycled and walked to school instead of being ferried in the car, early morning and mid afternoon congestion would drop by a third.
Digby Jones may not ride to work (Howard Davies, the last but one DG of the CBI, used to) but he knows how beneficial cycling can be on a personal level: he lost four stone on his End to End ride!
NB Digby Jones isnt the only closet cyclist in a position of power. Theres also Steven Norris and Edmund King. (If you know of any more, please let us know)
The philandering former transport minister is now the head of the Freight Transport Association but is for ever making positive noises about cycling. He was the Tory politician who saw the light on his own personal cyclepath to Damascus and afterwards created the National Bicycle Strategy which aims to double cycle use within ten years. Norris is always happy to present prizes to pro-cycling initiatives and, whilst not a cyclist himself, was instrumental in putting cycling on the political map.
Edmund is the RACs head of communications. How does he often arrive at media interviews to talk about protecting the rights of motorists? Er, by folding bike.