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14 top cyclists call on councils to improve cycling facilities

Chris Boardman & Chris Hoy spearhead call to #ChooseCycling

A group of Britain’s top cyclists are today calling on local councils to across Britain to make a public commitment to improve conditions for cycling.

The initiative is being spear-headed by British Cycling’s policy adviser Chris Boardman who has written to council leaders in his home region of the Wirral. A further 13 world champion cyclists, including  Chris Hoy, Sarah Storey and Laura Trott have also today written to councils across Britain to ask them to choose cycling.

The riders and British Cycling are calling on councils to implement the organisation’s #ChooseCycling 10 point action plan, which sets out the actions that need to be taken to truly encourage hundreds of thousands more people to get around by bike.

British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, said: “Britain is now one of the most successful cycling nations in the world but you wouldn’t know this from looking at the state of our nation’s roads and junctions. We’re getting it right on the world stage but the work that is being done at a local level is falling far short of the mark.

“If we truly want to convince the British public to choose cycling as their preferred form of transport and create healthier, more pleasant places to live, we need local leaders to make some radical changes and to be far more enterprising about how they are using their public spaces.

Britain’s most successful ever Olympian, Chris Hoy, said: “If we want to inspire a transformation in communities across Britain – making them happier and healthier - cycling needs to be prioritised. There has never been a better moment to do this and councils must make some bold decisions now before it’s too late. We desperately need Britain’s roads to accommodate the needs of cyclists to encourage people of all ages to get on bikes.”

The top three recommendations in British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling plan include:

  • Accommodating cycling into the design of all new roads and junctions, known as ‘cycle-proofing;’;
  • Meaningful and consistent levels of funding are required to make ‘cycle-proofing’ happen;
  • Political leadership and measureable targets – as we’ve seen happen in London with Mayor Boris Johnson – are required to truly kick start a local transformation in the number of people getting on bikes.

The number of people cycling for transportation varies widely across the UK. Recent Office of National Statistics data shows that an average of just 2.8% of people commuted by bike in 2011. In some areas, such as this year’s Tour de France start town, Leeds, it’s as low as one percent, while just 25 miles away in York, where stage 2 of the Tour starts, 12 percent of people commute by bike. Stage 3 start town Cambridge boasts a 29 percent commuting rate, the highest in the UK.

York and Cambridgeshire, says British Cycling, have consistently invested in cycle-friendly roads and junctions and are now reaping the benefits.

Evidence consistently shows that more people commuting by bike would benefit all parts of the community. British Cycling recently commissioned research from Cambridge University which showed that if Brits made just one in 10 of their weekly commuting trips by bike, it would save the NHS £2.5 billion over a decade in the cost of treating illnesses related to physical inactivity. More commuter cycling would also benefit employers; research in Holland by TNO has shown that people who commute by bike take one less sick day per year, on average, than their non-cycling counterparts.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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ragtag | 10 years ago

Come on Joanna Rowsell, support Sutton and Cheam

Roger Geffen | 10 years ago

You too can join with thousands of others who have written to your Councillor(s), wherever you are in the UK, urging them to commit to high standards of cycle-friendly planning and design, and to seek the funding needed to implement these.

It's really simple. Visit - or if you're in London. Or for more background about the national Space for Cycling campaign, visit

andyp | 10 years ago

'Laura Trott is a Hertfordshire gal. Why does the picture say she is from Essex?'

Probably because she was born in Essex and thus is considered to be 'from' Essex. She grew up in Hertfordshire and now lives in Manchester of course.

CornishSprinter | 10 years ago

Because fuck Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset.

You've got Chris Opie and Steve Lampier from down here.

I've ridden through Truro. I wouldn't recommend it.

hardgrit | 10 years ago

I emailed my local Conv councillor the other day to question his views on removing bus lanes across Bury. He believes removing them ( quoted Liverpool) will increase traffic flow. I pointed out that increased traffic flow would be achieved by getting people who don't need to be in cars out of them and walking or cycling, along with all the other benefits that come with that. His reply to my large rambling email was tepid at best.
In a country obsessed with the car it's gonna be a hard job to get people out of them.

sunburnt | 10 years ago

Laura Trott is a Hertfordshire gal. Why does the picture say she is from Essex?

Initialised | 10 years ago

Sadly it'sall talk and nothing will change until laws are in place to enforce "cycle-proofing" design rules and to give cyclist priority over motorised vehicles at junctions. Encouraging councils to throw money at infrastructure will never make cyclists feel safer in traffic and can end up doing the opposite. Changing the attitudes of the majority of drivers through increased penalties for collisions with cyclists, starting with strict liability and a Think Bike campaign.

WolfieSmith | 10 years ago

As I've remarked a few times Chris Boardman could help the Wirral and Merseyside in general by asking some difficult questions of Liverpool Council, Sefton Council and the rather shadowy Peel Holdings that hold's so much sway over the councils and the NW in general.

The poorly thought out and pointless Boris Bikes scheme for Liverpool is about to be launched with Boardmans' support yet the bus lanes have been withdrawn throughout Liverpool to aid motorcar expansion and although Peel Holdings is developing the whole of the Northern dock region there is no liaison with cycling bodies and any announcements on whether proper cycle commuter routes are to be included in new development planning won't be revealed until 2015. Any proposals summited to the councils are answered with the usual guff about the 'priorities of transport infrastructure'. Which means the usual cycling as an afterthought routine. They look at busy routes and say "Well, no cyclist are using this road so why cater for them?' when the reason cyclists don't use the road is because it's too dangerous to consider it.

Both councils are still working on the dated assumption that if they slap a bit of paint on the road and make a lot of noise about cycling - with some photo opportunities with Uncle Chris thrown in - they can carry on making no real provision to encourage cycling and just bleat on about the expense of retro fitting cycle lanes to projects completed without any real input from cyclists.

I realise that Boardman is pragmatism incarnate but if he's going to get all angry and strident in the press he should start at home and insist local councils really talk in detail about how they are going to prioritise cycling instead of going through the motions until everyone stops watching.

If he wants a photo opportunity he can come stand by the cycle route across the Seaforth Dock entrance where some poor commuter was run down last year by a lorry for the lack of a drop kerb. The drop kerb's in place now. How's that for retro planning?  22

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