Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Chris Boardman calls for more ambitious cycling provision outside big cities

Starts with ideas for his own home town of West Kirby

Olympic gold medalist, Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey holder Chris Boardman has called on towns across Britain to be ambitious about designing cycling back into roads and junctions.

Wearing his hat of British Cycling policy advisor, Boardman said that the focus on improving facilities for cycling has been on major cities, but that a “true cycling revolution” needed towns and cities to be on board too.

Speaking during a tour of his home town of West Kirby, Boardman said: “A lot of the noise around cycling is about what our major cities can do to kick-start real culture change and get masses of people cycling. But if we want to inspire a true cycling revolution, we have to make sure that hundreds of towns and villages are being just as ambitious.

“Two-thirds of people in this country have said they would get on a bike if the environment was more appealing for cyclists. Councils across Britain should be prioritising cycling as a form of transport and seeing it as a wider solution to problems such as obesity and congestion.

“This isn’t about finding new money. This is about a reallocation of existing funds and a conscious decision to create more pleasant places to live.”

As an example, Boardman presented MP Esther McVey and Wirral Council with a set of proposals that could kick-start a cycling transformation in the town from just £3,000, and that provide examples of the kind of changes that can be made in any town to enable cycling.

The suggestions include:

  • Two-way cycling on South Parade (currently a wide one-way street) and the Promenade for a cost of £4,000
  • Speed reduction and convenient crossing from a cost of £5,000
  • Linking the Wirral Circular Trail at a cost of £3,000
  • New layout of the central area of the town including a shared space design from a cost of £41,000
  • Removing motor traffic from the Crescent area of the town for a cost of £12,000

Boardman has long said that government plans for cycling should be properly costed and detailed, rather than just involving vague pledges. The plans for West Kirby were drawn up with British Cycling’s infrastructure expert, Adrian Lord to demonstrate how some simple changes to road design could have a transformative effect, giving the town’s residents the choice of travelling by bike.

The proposed changes, he said, could increase takings for local businesses by 50% and at the same time reduce accidents by two-fifths. By making the town centre more of a shared space, the number of cycling trips could increase by 20% in the first year. All of this could be achieved by reducing the number of car parking spaces by just 2.5% across the town centre.

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.

Latest Comments