The Government wants to see access to cycle training for every child, creating a generation of new, safe cyclists according to the Departments for Transport and Health.
This is one of the aims of the 'Active Travel Strategy', published today, which outlines plans to put walking and cycling at the heart of local transport and public health strategies over the next decade.
Published with the National Cycle Plan, the Active Travel Strategy calls for a Decade of Cycling.
The other aims of the strategy include every major public sector employer to be signed up to the Cycle to Work Guarantee, announced last year.
The DfT also wants to see cycle parking at or within easy reach of every public building, and sufficient secure bike parking at every rail station.
There will also be more support for local authorities who want to introduce 20mph zones and limits into more residential streets to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists
Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said:
"Active travel means a transport system where walking and cycling become the norm.
"Instead of automatically reaching for their car keys, I want to see people feeling confident enough to jump on their bike or pull on a pair of trainers.
"I am confident that this strategy will achieve this, making active travel a genuine and viable option for everybody."
Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said:
"Walking and cycling are two of the easiest ways for people to build regular physical activity into their daily lives – whether it’s riding to work, walking to school or simply having fun.
“This strategy demonstrates that even making small changes can bring about significant health benefits, and helps reinforce the message of the Government’s Change4Life movement, which is helping people to eat well, move more and live longer.”
Today's announcement is supported by a £12.5m package of investment which will secure cycle training for half a million additional school children by 2012.
The funding - which is part of the Government's £140m cycling budget over three years - will be provided to Local Authorities, the Government's Cycling Demonstration Towns, Youth Sport Trust, School Sports Partnerships and cycle trainers.
Also published today are results from an evaluation of the Government's Sustainable Travel Towns project, which aims to showcase towns that put walking, cycling and public transport firmly in the spotlight. Across three towns - Darlington, Peterborough and Worcester – there have been up to 9 percent reductions in car trips and up to 30 percent increases in cycling trips
CTC welcomed the Active Travel strategy’s declaration to make this the ‘Decade of Cycling’.
CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen said:
"The strong evidence of the health benefits of cycling has been well set out by the Strategy’s authors, who also provide a useful outline of what has worked so far in towns across England.
"CTC has been campaigning for the Government to increase cycling to the level achieved by many of our European neighbours, so is pleased this aspiration is endorsed by the Strategy. However, even though it refers to the doubling of cycling levels in London in 8 years and Darlington in 3, it is disappointing that the Strategy itself contains no specific timescales for achieving similar goals nationally. Furthermore, there are no new initiatives or investment to deliver the promised ‘Decade of Cycling’.
"The Active Travel Strategy is a supportive statement of warm words about cycling. Unfortunately, it cannot deliver the massive step-change in cycle use that it recommends alone. CTC wants government departments to tell us what they are going to do and spend to make this happen. To tackle obesity, climate change and congested roads we need more than a homily to the humble bike; we need an action plan with pound signs attached.”
CTC will shortly be launching a new campaign called Vote Bike, so that cyclists can enlist the support of their parliamentary candidates to ensure cycling stays on the Government’s agenda.
"Now is the time to get serious about getting a lot more people cycling," said Geffen.