Former world and Olympic champion and Tour de France maillot jaune Chris Boardman has produced a short film for British Cycling that poses the question, Who Are Cycle Lanes For? The film has been released ahead of his appearance on Wednesday before the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ Parliamentary Inquiry, the fourth of six sessions and focusing in part on how to turn Britain’s sporting success into getting more people riding bikes.
That’s part of a wider look at the health aspects of cycling, including promoting it in schools and the workplace and access to facilities, with other witnesses including Phil Insall of Sustrans and public health and transport consultant Dr Adrian Davies.
They will be joined by representatives of the Department of Health, the Cycle to Work Alliance, NICE, the Forestry Commission, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Natural England and Mountbatten School, Hampshire.
The session, held in Committee Room 8 of the House of Commons, lasts from 9.30am to 11.30am and can be followed on Twitter via the hashtag #GetBritainCycling. The final two sessions will look at ‘The Local Perspective’ on 27 February, and ‘Government’ on 4 March, ahead of a report being published in April.
Boardman’s short, near silent film – no voiceover, just the rumble of wheels, the odd click of gears, and the noise of passing traffic – highlights just some of the obstacles that stop discourage people from taking to two wheels, in the physical sense at least.
Those include cycle lanes that end abruptly, then reappear to direct riders onto poorly maintained shared footways where they must dodge road signs, and give way to motorised traffic before rejoining the road.
“We need to start asking ourselves questions – big ones like ‘what do we want the places in which we live to look like?’ and smaller ones like: ‘who are cycle lanes for?’,” explained Boardman.
“When we consider questions like these, I think the answers will lead us in one direction: we need more and better provision for people who want to travel by bike.
“When we have that, our towns and cities will be better places in which to live. It needs investment but the costs, of poor health caused by inactivity which are currently £4billion annually, mean the potential savings are huge.”
Martin Gibbs, Policy and Legal Affairs Director at British Cycling, added: “We’re truly world class in sporting terms and more and more people are riding bikes but to make a step change in every-day cycling one of the decisions we need to make is that cycling will be built into our transport infrastructure and policies.”
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.