Olympic gold medalist, Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey holder Chris Boardman has called on towns across Britain to be ambitious about designing cycling back into roads and junctions.
Wearing his hat of British Cycling policy advisor, Boardman said that the focus on improving facilities for cycling has been on major cities, but that a “true cycling revolution” needed towns and cities to be on board too.
Speaking during a tour of his home town of West Kirby, Boardman said: “A lot of the noise around cycling is about what our major cities can do to kick-start real culture change and get masses of people cycling. But if we want to inspire a true cycling revolution, we have to make sure that hundreds of towns and villages are being just as ambitious.
“Two-thirds of people in this country have said they would get on a bike if the environment was more appealing for cyclists. Councils across Britain should be prioritising cycling as a form of transport and seeing it as a wider solution to problems such as obesity and congestion.
“This isn’t about finding new money. This is about a reallocation of existing funds and a conscious decision to create more pleasant places to live.”
As an example, Boardman presented MP Esther McVey and Wirral Council with a set of proposals that could kick-start a cycling transformation in the town from just £3,000, and that provide examples of the kind of changes that can be made in any town to enable cycling.
The suggestions include:
- Two-way cycling on South Parade (currently a wide one-way street) and the Promenade for a cost of £4,000
- Speed reduction and convenient crossing from a cost of £5,000
- Linking the Wirral Circular Trail at a cost of £3,000
- New layout of the central area of the town including a shared space design from a cost of £41,000
- Removing motor traffic from the Crescent area of the town for a cost of £12,000
Boardman has long said that government plans for cycling should be properly costed and detailed, rather than just involving vague pledges. The plans for West Kirby were drawn up with British Cycling’s infrastructure expert, Adrian Lord to demonstrate how some simple changes to road design could have a transformative effect, giving the town’s residents the choice of travelling by bike.
The proposed changes, he said, could increase takings for local businesses by 50% and at the same time reduce accidents by two-fifths. By making the town centre more of a shared space, the number of cycling trips could increase by 20% in the first year. All of this could be achieved by reducing the number of car parking spaces by just 2.5% across the town centre.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.