Members of the cycle trade have called on the industry to throw its weight behind Cycling England and tell the Coalition Government that axing the body is a costly mistake.
Following the announced abolition of the body, prominent voices from the industry have expressed their misgivings at the news and concern over the future of Bikeability cycle training.
Mark Bickerton, UK agent for Dahon and Bicycle Association vice president conveyed his disappointment to BikeBiz:
“We know that Bikeability’s future has been promised as secure, but Cycling England has done so much more to encourage more cycle use: the money the Government has given cycling through Cycling England has demonstrated just how good an investment it is. Every pound spent on Cycling infrastructure, training, and safe routes has been rewarded by at least triple the amount in savings on congestion, safety, health and pollution.
“We all recognise that UK Plc is in a parlous financial state, but I feel Cycling England has been thrown on the bonfire without just cause. Cycling is growing in popularity, yes, but with Cycling England behind the movement, we have seen a far quicker growth in cycling than otherwise would have been.
“Lead skilfully by Phillip Darnton, Cycling England has kick started increased cycle usage super effectively and it is was originally started with the support of seed funding from our own trade and industry through the Bike Hub Levy. Canning Cycling England is a retrograde step akin to madness on the part of the DfT, and one all of us in the industry should do our best to rail against.
“I call on all Conservative and Liberal coalition Parliamentarians to make their disappointment known to David Cameron, Phillip Hammond and Norman Baker: What this country needs at this time of austerity is more cycling. Cycling is good for transport, health, pollution, congestion and the country.
“I urge everyone in the bike business to make their feelings known to their own MP, and also to the Government.”
An Evans spokesperson mourned the passing of Cycling England, telling BikeBiz: “Evans Cycles has always advocated cycling throughout the UK and supported the initiatives of Cycling England. Getting more people out cycling safely is a great legacy it leaves behind.”
Other industry voices have been less critical of the plans to abolish the body and looked ahead to its replacement – and the newly announced Local Sustainability Travel Fund.
David Wild, CEO of Halfords, told BikeBiz: “Cycling England has made a positive contribution to cycling in this country. Moving forward, Halfords believes the creation of new Local Sustainability Travel Funds will enable more locally integrated cycling planning and promotion.
“The fund shows that the Government is committed to improving local conditions for cycling and the cycling environment. As one of the UK’s major cycling retailers, Halfords wishes to support this focus on cycling and its associated benefits of reducing congestion, cutting emissions and helping people live healthier lifestyles.”