Transport minister Norman Baker has pledged that Bikeability, the cycle training scheme delivered by Cycling England, CTC and other bodies, would not be thrown in the flames in the forthcoming 'bonfire of the quangos'.
He made the pledge before an audience of bike trade figures and train executives at the official opening of CyclePoint in Leeds. This is a bike parking unit at the front of Leeds station. It has space for 300 bikes, stored for £1 a day. [Audio of Norman Baker's speech can be found here].
The Leeds CyclePoint is operated by Evans Cycles via £500,000 funding from the Department of Transport working with Network Rail and Abellio of the Netherlands, co-owner of Northern Rail.
The official opening was carried out by Baker; Anton Volk, CEO of Abellio; and
Pim Waldeck, the Dutch ambassador in the UK.
Transport journalist - and board member of Cycling England - Christian Wolmar gave a speech welcoming the opening of CyclePoint but he also took the opportunity to urge Baker not to abolish Cycling England, a measure which is widely expected.
Wolmar had written a passionate open letter to Baker on christianwolmar.net regarding the likely abolition.
Wolmar apologised for making a last-minute case to save Cycling England at the opening but he said doing so in front of the minister and pro cycling Dutch VIPs was an ideal way to get across the fact investment in cycling was important.
When it was his turn to give a speech, Volk also applied pressure on Baker, urging the minister to spend a lot more on cycling infrastructure.
Baker referred to the abolition of Cycling England in his speech but wouldn't confirm it. He did, however, go out of his way to stress that Bikeability would not be a baby thrown out with the Cycling England bathwater.
BikeBiz spoke to the minister afterwards and he agreed the off the cuff announcement about saving Bikeability was new. However, he would not be drawn on the future of Cycling England, simply adding that a vehicle was needed to carry on the work of Bikeability but quite what shape this vehicle would take is as yet undecided.
(Pictured left to right: Baker, Volk and Waldeck)
A longer piece on the opening of CyclePoint will be carried in the November issue of BikeBiz.