Parliament has moved another step closer to requiring the Department for Transport to plan for active travel with the inclusion yesterday of a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy amendment in the Infrastructure Bill.
The amendment was the result of lobbying by numerous cycling organisations including Sustrans, Campaign to Protect Rural England, CTC, Living Streets and Campaign for Better Transport. The support of health lobby organisation the Richmond Group seemed to resonate with a number of MPs, campaigners say.
After CTC published research suggesting that increased cycle use would be worth £248bn to the economy by 2050, over 5,000 CTC members and supporters emailled their MPs in support of the amendment.
In Parliamentary discussion of the amendment, Department of Transport minister John Hayes said "It would be ironic to have a road investment strategy without having a walking and cycling strategy alongside it."
Acknowledging the positive comments about the amendment made by Chris Boardman, Hayes added: "Government have to take difficult decisions, and not everything we do is universally popular, but when one gets such acclamation, one has to — I will not say milk it; that would be wrong — draw it to the attention of the House in a measured and humble way."
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, who proposed the amendment, said: "On behalf of everyone else from the all-party cycling group, others who supported the new clause and all the organisations who have worked on this, I thank the Minister for the Government agreeing to do this, because it will make a big difference."
The CTC said the amendment was a turning point for cycling, but the task was now to get the parties to commit to funding after the election.
Roger Geffen, CTC Campaign and Policy Director said: "Acceptance of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy amendment is a turning point for cycling in the UK. Credit must be given to the Government backing of it, MPs such as Dr Julian Huppert who fought so hard for it, and the thousands of people who worked so hard to make this happen.
"Now is no time for resting on our laurels. With the general election only months away CTC will be looking to secure commitments of how much funding each party would put into the investment strategy."
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.