The government has been urged by cycle campaigners and The Times newspaper to fully embrace the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report, published today, which follows a six-week long Parliamentary Inquiry hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG). The report will be formally launched at the Palace of Westminster later today. The Labour Party, however, says that the report demonstrates that Mr Cameron has "let cyclists down." You can find the report's key findings as well as a copy of its Summary and Recommendations here.
The report was written by transport academic Phil Goodwin, funded by News International, owner of The Times. It was the newspaper's Get Britain Cycling initiative, launched in February last year, which helped build on existing work by cycling campaigners to push the issue up the political agenda.
Since then, there has been a change in editorship at the paper, with John Witherow replacing James Harding, who had been closely involved in the newspaper's campaign. However, The Times remains committed to the issue, and in a hard-hitting editorial today, which you can read in full here, it calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to personally pledge to accept the report's recommendations. It says:
"Cycling has been good for David Cameron. The Prime Minister has used cycling to help brand himself a modern Conservative: young, down to earth and environmentally conscious. Now it is time for him to be good for cycling.
"Today’s report by a cross-party group of MPs and peers offers a blueprint for a country where more people cycle more safely — a healthier, happier and more prosperous Britain. The parliamentarians call for changes to speed limits, better training for children and drivers, improved road junctions and more segregated cycle routes."
The Times adds:
"The new report has met with widespread support. The AA said it would be urging motorists to back the proposals. But what it really needs is political weight, starting from the top. Mr Cameron has voiced his backing for our campaign. Now he needs to assert his authority in favour of practical proposals to transform Britain’s streets."
Equally strong words came from Labour, but they were critical of Mr Cameron and his Government and focused on what Labour would do, rather than urging him to take action:
“This Government has slashed support for cycling while cutting safety funding and abolishing targets to reduce deaths and injury on our roads. Yet Ministers have denied that this would have any impact upon the safety of cyclists.
“Labour has made clear that we would support cycling and make it safer for cyclists by using the existing roads budget to deliver separated safe cycling routes and safer junctions and introducing a new Cycling Safety Assessment for new transport schemes alongside tough new rules on HGVs.
“This report shows that much more needs to be done to encourage people in this country to cycle and to protect those who use our roads. However the reality is that cyclists have been an afterthought for this Government and that instead of the vision and leadership needed David Cameron and his Ministers have let cyclists down.”
Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director at the national cyclists' organisation, CTC, who gave evidence at the inquiry, said:
“MPs and Peers have highlighted the need for Britain to rediscover cycling, after a whole generation of adults has missed out its benefits for our health, our streets, our communities and our wallets.
“Some of the report’s recommendations are inexpensive ‘quick wins’, such as getting cycling on the curriculum for secondary as well as primary schools, and making 20mph the normal speed limit for most urban streets. Others, like redesigning our roads and junctions to be cycle-friendly, will require sustained investment over many years.
“However, with growing media interest and with our sporting triumphs of 2012 still fresh in the memory, now is the time for David Cameron to fire the starting-gun for action across Whitehall and throughout the country, to ‘Get Britain Cycling’.”
Sustrans was also involved in some of the six sessions of the inquiry in which evidence was heard, and its policy director, Jason Torrance, urged for the report to be adopted in full, saying:
“The urgent action needed to Get Britain Cycling and the remarkable benefits of doing so are now clearer than ever.
“We now need leadership from the heart of government and co-operation by every department to implement these recommendations in full, helping to create a healthier, happier, more prosperous nation.
“Simple steps like putting cycling in the national curricula and fully considering bikes in planning decisions are vital to making sure people of all ages can cycle with confidence to work and the shops or to socialise.”
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.