Leadership from the top required if we are to increase cycling - BikeBiz

Leadership from the top required if we are to increase cycling

The report for the Get Britain Cycling parliamentary inquiry calls for political leadership to effect change.
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A parliamentary report on the future of cycling in Britain calls for roadspace reallocation and more cash for cycling. The report - published today - also calls for a national cycling champion to lead a drive for 10 per cent of all journeys in Britain to be by bicycle by 2025. More of the transport budget should be spent on supporting cycling, at an initial rate of at least £10 per person per year, increasing as cycle levels increase, says the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.

The report - sponsored by The Times and the Bicycle Association - is based on the six week ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry, which started to hear evidence in January. The 16-page summary report also calls for 20mph speed limits to become standard in urban areas and lower speed limits on many rural roads. It also says that all children should be given the chance to learn the skills of on-road cycling, at primary and secondary school.

The Times' cycle safe campaign led to the creation of the inquiry and the newspaper is today seeking to capitalise on the report's launch to get 100,000 signatures on a petition on the Government's petition website. This may then trigger a debate in parliament.

The inquiry heard evidence from over 100 individuals and organisations, including cycling organisations, the Automobile Association, and a wide range of government departments and ministers.

More cycling will lead to reduced congestion, environmental benefits and healthier citizens, said the report. The aim is increase cycle use from less than 2 per cent of journeys in 2011, to 10 per cent of all journeys in 2025, and 25 per cent by 2050.

For this to happen, leadership is needed right from the top, the MPs and Peers conclude. Cycling should also be considered at an earlier stage in all planning decisions, whether transport schemes or new houses or businesses and More use should be made of segregated cycle lanes, learning from the Dutch experience.

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the group, said: "Cycling has huge advantages - it is fast, safe, healthy, efficient, reliable, environmentally sound, and fun. We all benefit when people choose to cycle.

"One of the most consistent points made was that lower speed limits reduce the number and severity of collisions for both pedestrians and cyclists - we should heed that advice. It will improve safety and reduce the fear of cycling that too many feel.

"This generation of politicians has the chance to be long remembered for having a vision for cycling that includes us all. Put simply, Britain needs to re-learn how to cycle. This report sets out how this can be done."

Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North and co-chair of the group said: "Too often, cyclists are just an afterthought. When collisions happen, the police and courts let the victims down, with sentences that do not fit the harm caused – this must be changed.

"The real test of whether something is taken seriously in Government is who leads on it – and that means the Prime Minister has to take that lead."

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch and vice chair of the group said: "In Hackney, strong political leadership has shown what can be done, with Hackney topping the league tables for journeys by bike in London. We now need that leadership nationally."

Journalist and broadcaster Jon Snow said: ‘At last, Parliament is pedalling the talk and recognising the urgent need for political leadership on actions for cycling. Whichever party peader now seizes this opportunity, will reap dividends."

The president of the Automobile Association, Edmund King, said "If the recommendations in Get Britain Cycling are followed through it should be the catalyst for change to put cycling on the front foot. We now need leadership to match this vision. Drivers and cyclists are often the same people and they should all welcome this report."

British Cycling’s Chris Boardman, said: "The benefits of getting more people to cycle in terms of health and improving the places in which we live are clear. We need to be ambitious and set ourselves quantifiable targets to increase the number of people on bikes. Only then will we have a yardstick against which we can measure our every action and policy."

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