Rural areas to get an e-bike boost?

Government to dedicate extra funding following Norman Baker's pledge
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The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has helped score a victory for the e-bike sector.

The organisation has successfully campaigned for the inclusion of electric bikes into the Government’s Local Transport White Paper Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon, published by the Department for Transport.

The paper, published as a guide for the £560m Local Sustainable Transport Fund, states: “With their longer range compared to normal bikes, e-bike could conceivably make cycling more viable in hilly and sparsely populated areas.”

Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner at CPRE, said: “With petrol prices likely to keep on rising and funding for bus services under pressure, this new transport funding and commitment to innovative solutions could not have come a moment too soon for the countryside.”

“Supporting community led transport initiatives like electric bike pools, local food deliveries and community buses could make a real and welcome difference to many people’s travel habits. But if plans to slash funding for rural buses continue, some will see it as robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

The British Electric Bicycle Association also had a hand in e-bike’s inclusion in the paper, the organisation told BikeBiz.

BEBA secretary Mark Loveridge said: “The fact that electric bikes get a mention in the White Paper has given us the leverage to write to all Local Authorities with suggestions of how they could create projects that involve using electric bikes.”

Rural transport was boosted further this month by a new funding pledge from the Government of £10 million, although Sustrans warned that it wouldn’t be enough to plug the gap left by cuts.

76 rural local authorities will get access to the extra cash, announced by Norman Baker MP, Minister for regional and local transport on Wednesday.

Jason Torrance, Sustrans' Policy Manager, said: “The fund is a welcome step towards kick-starting more widespread community transport services, which should be more convenient and affordable to passengers. Demand-led services can give people more choice about how they travel for local journeys so that leaving the car at home is a more realistic option even within rural areas.

“Less money overall for local transport means spending wisely on value-for-money, realistic travel choices for people. We need to see Government doing even more to support local communities and services so that the creation of locally useful and sustainable transport services becomes a reality.”

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