Pro-bike Bristol becomes England's first 'cycling city'

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly also announced 11 new Cycling Demonstration towns, all paid for with £100m package
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Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly also announced 11 new Cycling Demonstration towns, all paid for with £100m package

Today's announcement aims to encourage 2.5 million more adults and children to take up cycling, improve their fitness and beat the traffic.

The further 11 Cycling Demonstration Towns will build on the work of the existing six Cycling Demonstration Towns appointed in 2005, which have seen significant increases in cycling levels. The new towns are Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton/Linslade, Shrewsbury, Southend on Sea, Southport with Ainsdale, Stoke, Woking and York.

Bristol - home city of Sustrans - wants to double the number of people cycling over the next three years, by:

* Creating the UK's first on-street bike rental network, modelled on the successful Paris scheme;

* Establishing a 're-cycling' scheme, providing free bikes to those in deprived communities;

* Building a state-of-the-art facility for cyclists in the city centre providing showers, bike parking and lockers so commuters can have a wash and brush up before starting work;

* Creating a dedicated cycleway to link the suburbs with the city centre opening up new, safer options for commuters who currently rely on their cars;

 * More than doubling the number of children receiving cycling training.

Ruth Kelly said:

"The UK's first ever Cycling City and 11 new Cycling Demonstration Towns will pioneer new ways of encouraging people to get on their bikes.

"A quarter of journeys made every day by car are less than two miles. Cycling is an alternative that could bring real health benefits to millions of adults and children, as well as helping them save money and beat congestion.

"The first step in persuading people to leave their cars at home is to offer them a real choice. Providing a step change in cycling facilities, dedicated cycle lanes, more training and information will have a big impact on how people choose to travel.

"I look forward to seeing these towns and cities put their plans into action and urge other communities across the country to follow their lead."

Phillip Darnton, Chairman of Cycling England, said:

“We have learnt from our European neighbours, such as the Netherlands, that increased and sustained investment is the key to getting more people enjoying the benefits of cycling. The funding that Bristol and the other 11 towns have been awarded is designed to create a real step change in levels of cycling, starting in 2008 and for years to come.

“Beyond well co-ordinated, consistent investment in cycling, and the introduction of policy measures to encourage it, cycling crucially needs determined and persistent high-level leadership. We are delighted that the Government has championed this and Cycling England’s other projects which aim to increase national cycling levels by 20 per cent overall by 2012.”

Earlier in the year the Government announced it is investing an £140 million in cycling to increase the provision of Bikeability training to help half a million children cycle safely by 2012 and build 250 new Safe Links to School.

The £100m package breaks down as £47m for the cycling demonstration towns and city until March 2011, with at least match funding from each place to ensure local commitment. It includes £7m awarded to the first six Cycling Demonstration Towns in 2005.

Applicants were chosen from a shortlist of 19 local authorities, out of an original 74 bids.

There are currently six Cycling Demonstration Towns. These are Aylesbury, Brighton, Darlington, Derby, Exeter and Lancaster.

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