Sustrans has called for political leadership backed by hard cash to raise levels of cycling and improve the health of the nation as the charity prepares to give evidence this morning to the Parliamentary Inquiry that aims to ‘Get Britain Cycling.’
The sustainable transport charity’s policy director, Jason Torrance, who is representing it at this morning’s opening session at the Palace of Westminster, said: “Cycling could help rescue the UK from the clutches of an obesity epidemic but there’s a gaping hole in funding and political support.
“We need bold leadership, visionary new policies and a fresh way of thinking about cycling education and infrastructure to make jumping on your bike as easy and normal as brushing your teeth.
“Increasing cycling would ease pressure on the NHS, cut congestion and help make the UK one of the cleanest, healthiest and most pleasant places to live in the world.”
Today’s session is the first of six that will be held during the inquiry, which has been launched by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and is part funded by News International, owner of The Times newspaper.
Its report, which will be written by transport academic Professor Phil Goodwin, will be published in April.
Sustrans said that it plans to highlight today a number of areas that it believes will boost cycling in the UK:
introduce a national default speed limit of 20mph in residential areas
allocate at least 10% of transport budgets to increasing cycling levels
build more safe cycling routes across the UK
included cycling in the national curriculum
see health and transport departments work together to ensure cycling is central to future public health plans.
Today’s hearing is split into three sessions with separate panels for cycle advocacy groups, experts and media, and will include contributions from witnesses representing British Cycling, CTC, Cyclenation, Sustrans, the Bicycle Association, Transport for Quality of Life, the University of Westminster, Bikebiz, The Guardian and The Times.
The subjects of the other five hearings, together with their dates, are:
Safety - 30 January 2013
Planning and design - 6 February
Active lifestyles - 13 February
The local perspective - 27 February
Government - 6 March
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.