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Drivers should welcome cycle lanes, says AA president

Edmund King insists dedicated infrastructure for bike riders helps ease motor traffic congestion, and urges government to protect funding

The president of the UK’s biggest motoring organisation, the AA, says that drivers should welcome cycle lanes because by encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto bikes for everyday journeys, they help improve motor traffic flow and reduce congestion.

Edmund King has also called on the government to protect active travel funding from falling victim to widely expected spending cuts in the Budget, which is due at the end of this month, reports the Daily Telegraph.

“Even though we're a motoring organisation, that doesn't mean you need to use your motor all the time,” explained King.

“Journeys under a mile and a half are in many ways the most expensive way to use a car,” he said, “because your car's not warmed up, you're only going a short distance, and you’ve got to pay to park.”

Research conducted by the AA found that during the coronavirus lockdowns, a reduction of between 5 and 10 per cent in levels of motor traffic was the sweet spot in ensuring that it flowed freely, rather than drivers being stuck in traffic jams.

“It doesn't have to be a massive cut, but can make a big difference,” said King.

He has previously spoken of how people should use the most appropriate means of travel for the journey they are undertaking, whether that be by car, public transport or cycling or walking – or a mixture of different modes, if the trip requires it.

King has also called for an end to what he termed the “two tribes” mentality which often sees cyclists and motorists depicted as entirely separate groups when in fact many people both drive motor vehicles and ride bicycles.

> AA President calls for end to 'Two Tribes' mentality that divides cyclists and motorists

While one in five AA members ride bikes regularly, the organisation says that more would be encouraged to do so if there were more safe infrastructure, with around half claiming they would seek to replace at least one car journey a week with a bike ride.

The AA has added its voice to those of campaigners including the charity Cycling UK in calling for the government not to cut funding for active travel.

King said: “There is a commitment to spending for walking and cycling, and we don't think they should cut back on that. It would be short sighted, particularly at this time in the economy,” he added.

At the start of last year, as the UK emerged from lockdown, King urged people to reconsider their travel habits as life returned to some semblance of normality, urging them to replace trips by car with active means of travel where possible.

> Cycle more, drive less once pandemic ends, urges AA president

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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marmotte27 | 1 year ago
1 like

"It doesn't have to be a massive cut,"

Oh, but it does. Because otherwise we're fucked...

Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago

I've been teaching my kids (who love their bikes). When they are my age. 4+ wheel vehicles will be in the significant minority. Their bikes will get canopies and have plenty of road access. They'll be able to cycle long distances with fast routes and minimal danger. And that the air they breathe will be clean. They'll be healthier for it and see the world around them just yhat little better.

This is not a dream. It will happen.

And there's fuck all Grant Shatts can do about it.

Oldfatgit | 1 year ago

Why do I never see 'British Cycling" have added their voice on articles like this ... its always 'Cycling UK'

Just what *do* British Cycling do?

Simon E replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago

Oldfatgit wrote:

Just what *do* British Cycling do?

The BCF has never represented everyday cyclists. CUK was founded with that intention and have been doing so for over 140 years.

Running a world class track team costs money. The repairs to the Manchester velodrome are expected to cost £26 million and they have just opened a wind tunnel [twitter], though I'm not sure who is paying for it or why Halfords are involved after they washed their hands of the Boardman facility in Worcestershire.

But the future looks far from rosy. Cycling Weekly has said that Ribble-Weldtite will not continue in 2023 due to "a shortfall of £50,000-80,000 in sponsorship". Road racing in the UK is "in a dire state" according to BC's annual report, [CW article]. Entry fees at grassroots level would usually be a big earner for them but rider numbers are down, even in cyclo-cross.

Awavey replied to Simon E | 1 year ago
1 like

Well Halfords donated the tunnel fan and control units from the Worcestershire Boardman site, and its funded by Manchester City council and UK Sport, as youd hope really given these arent supposed to be things only BC get to play with.

Road racing is in a dire state because BC dont treat it with any respect against their perceived main priority which is win as many gold medals as they can.

And if theres no real setup for teams to evolve into racing in the UK, no media exposure for them, why are sponsors going to get involved at all ?

Even when there are races BC suddenly gets interested in, then it seems their demands to get the BC sponsors front and centre on everything, even though I dont believe BC provide any funding to the race organisers to help for it, actually pushes other sponsors out.

Awavey replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago

apparently theyve written a document called "Outdoors for everyone" and sent it to the PM...well Larry the cat I guess as the longest resident of No10 recently, DEFRA and DCMS.

andystow | 1 year ago

It makes so much sense. In the same way that a fishing conservation group joins together to say "maybe let's not harvest all the trout in the area so that we can continue to enjoy our hobby for the rest of our lives" a driving group should say "maybe let's not take up all the available road space with short trips that could be done by walking, cycling, or transit, so that when we do want to drive somewhere the roads are a lot more open.

OldRidgeback | 1 year ago

King has been public for some time of his like of cycling. Seeing the response to his tweets of this article from motoring enthusiasts who hate cycling have been amusing.

Clem Fandango | 1 year ago

The heretic!

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