The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) has called for 10 per cent of journeys in the UK to be made by bicycle by 2025. That, plus a call for spend on cycling to be raised to a minimum of £10 a head, are among the headline recommendations in the Get Britain Cycling report published today. The report follows a six-week long inquiry hosted by the APPCG at the Palace of Westminster earlier this year, and outlines how that goal can be achieved.
You can download a copy of the Summary and Recommendations at the end of this article, and the main points include:
More of the transport budget should be spent on supporting cycling, at a rate initially set to at least £10 per person per year, and increasing as cycling levels increase
Cycling should be considered at an earlier stage in all planning decisions, whether transport schemes or new houses or businesses
More use should be made of segregated cycle lanes, learning from the Dutch experience
Urban speed limits should generally be reduced to 20 mph
Just as children learn to swim at school they should learn to ride a bike
The Government should produce a detailed cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan, with annual progress reports.
More than 100 individuals and organisations, spanning government departments and officials from local authorities, plus representatives of cycling, motoring and road haulage organisations, gave evidence at the inquiry.
Besides that goal of 10 per cent of journeys to be undertaken by bicycle by 2025 – which would represent a five-fold increase on current levels – there’s a more ambitious and longer term goal of 25 per cent of journeys by 2050.
That would bring the UK close to the levels of cycling currently seen in the Netherlands or Denmark – or, to put it another way, would bring the rest of the UK roughly into line with Cambridge.
The APPCG has called on the Government to show leadership, including appointing a National Cycling Champion, and says that its recommendations, if implemented, would benefit health, the environment, and reduce congestion.
Cambridge MP Dr Julian Huppert, Co-Chair of the APPC, said: “Cycling has huge advantages - it is fast, safe, healthy, efficient, reliable, environmentally sound, and fun. We all benefit when people choose to cycle.
“One of the most consistent points made was that lower speed limits reduce the number and severity of collisions for both pedestrians and cyclists - we should heed that advice. It will improve safety and reduce the fear of cycling that too many feel.
“This generation of politicians has the chance to be long remembered for having a vision for cycling that includes us all. Put simply, Britain needs to re-learn how to cycle. This report sets out how this can be done.’
Fellow Co-Chair Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North, remarked: “Too often, cyclists are just an afterthought. When collisions happen, the police and courts let the victims down, with sentences that do not fit the harm caused – this must be changed.
“The real test of whether something is taken seriously in Government is who leads on it – and that means the Prime Minister has to take that lead.
“With the excitement of the Olympics and Tour de France last year, cycling has captured the public imagination and is ready to grow. Our proposals will make that happen, and get Britain Cycling.”
Journalist and broadcaster Jon Snow, who is President of national cyclists’ organisation CTC and who gave evidence at the Inquiry, commented: “At last Parliament is pedaling the talk and recognising the urgent need for political leadership on actions for cycling. Whichever Party Leader now seizes this opportunity, will reap dividends.
“Cycling is no longer an eccentric past time, but an urgent day to day need with massive potential, and positive outcomes for transport, health, and economic efficiency. Dare we think Ministerial action on this excellent report?’
Last year, AA president Edmund King, himself a cyclist, called for an end to the two tribes mentality that often sees cyclists and motorists treated as separate species when, in fact, most cyclists are drivers, and many motorists ride a bike.
Reacting to today’s report, he said: “If the recommendations in Get Britain Cycling are followed through it should be the catalyst for change to put cycling on the front foot. The clear vision is to change cycling from a ‘minority sport’ to a mainstream mode of travel.
“Currently 18% of AA members cycle regularly but if these recommendations become reality we could see these numbers double. We now need leadership to match this vision. Drivers and cyclists are often the same people and they should all welcome this report.’
Former world and Olympic champion Chris Boardman was another witness at the Inquiry, and said the key lay in setting goals.
“The benefits of getting more people to cycle in terms of health and improving the places in which we live are clear. We need to be ambitious and set ourselves quantifiable targets to increase the number of people on bikes. Only then will we have a yardstick against which we can measure our every action and policy. This is how we go about winning gold medals at British Cycling because we know it is the only way to be successful.”
The report will be formally launched at the Palace of Westminster this afternoon. In the meantime, you can find further reaction here.
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.