Hill said: "I welcome the positive stance taken by cycling organisations
to proceed with the Festival of Cycling.
“The Government's first priority is to eradicate the foot and mouth disease as
soon as possible. Its effects are very serious for both farmers and the wider
rural community and we are working urgently to develop and implement
measures to alleviate these impacts.
“However, people wrongly believe that the whole countryside is out of bounds.
There are large parts of the country which are not affected. The best way to
help rural businesses, especially those which rely on tourism, is by encouraging
their customers to return as quickly as possible to the many places where it is
safe to do so.
“The majority of the country's visitor attractions are open, and many sporting
and other events are taking place. It is important that we all play our part in
supporting them. Provided people abide by the rules currently in place for
visiting the countryside, I am certain that the contribution cyclists can make
to the rural economy will be welcomed in many areas.
“We fully support cycling across the country. Leisure and recreational cycling
underpins all other cycling activity, and is therefore crucial to any sustainable
transport system. I recognise that there are many cycling businesses, such as
cycle hire centres and rural bike shops, which are amongst the businesses
currently suffering. Any measures that can be taken to aid their survival
through this difficult period are welcome. I am therefore happy that this
important cycling promotion is going ahead."
The Festival of Cycling 2001 is being organised on behalf of ten groups: ACT, BA, CoBR, British Cycling Federation, British Schools Cycling Association, CTC, Cycle
Campaign Network, Cycling Time Trials, National TravelWise Association, and
The Festival takes place 16th-24th June, with up to 1,200 events expected to
take place across the UK. Details will be promoted on the Festival of Cycling website at www.cyclingfestival.org.uk