One year ago The Times reporter Mary Bowers was knocked from her bike. She has yet to regain consciousness. Her colleagues started the ‘cities safe for cycling’ campaign in her honour. Monday’s newspaper carries a number of major articles about cycling, as well as a strongly-worded editorial calling for cities to be adapted for cycling.
The newspaper also revealed it is providing £10,000 to help pay for a report from transport academic Phil Goodwin, professor of transport policy at the University of the West of England. Professor Goodwin – famous for articles on ‘peak car’ – will make his recommendations following a parliamentary inquiry next year.
The leading article opinion piece in ‘The Thunderer’ said: "The bike is the future and the task for British cities now be must be to adapt to the bike."
The Times stressed: "While cyclists too can always benefit from taking greater care, statistics show clearly that the vast majority of incidents between motor vehicles and bikes are caused by driver, rather than cyclist, error."
But the newspaper said it was not trying to change behaviour but influence urban design: "[The] stated aim of this campaign has never been to change drivers or cyclists. Rather, it has been to change the cities in which they cycle and drive."
The Times will be recommending "how more people can be encouraged to get on their bikes. We will speak to designers who can make cities that work as they should, and the Government and local officials with the power to turn their ideas into reality."
In what will be music to ideas of all those who want cars tamed, The Times said it was pushing for "nothing less than building a different kind of urban realm."
"The aim is to turn words of support from the Prime Minister and transport ministers into action to promote safe cycling," said The Times.
The inquiry will lead to a second parliamentary debate next year and a written policy statement from the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary.
A month-long call for evidence will be followed by weekly oral evidence sessions from January. The first is expected to explore the health benefits of cycling, how to exploit the Olympic legacy and improve cycle training. Later hearings will focus on driver training and the challenge faced by lorry drivers; road design and the need for cycle-friendly infrastructure; the need for cross-departmental co-ordination and a commitment from local councils; and leadership from government.