Drivers should welcome cycle lanes, says AA boss Edmund King

They should also drive less, he says, revealing that 20 per cent of AA members are cyclists

Image shows a rider not riding too close to the curb while cycle commuting to work.
(Image credit: Getty Images / Marco_Piunti)

Cycle lanes are good for drivers and more of them are needed, says the head of the AA Edmund King.

His intervention comes as the government eyes cuts across all areas of the public spending in an effort to deal with the financial repercussions of the former chancellor’s mini-budget last month.

King also said that drivers shouldn't be using their cars all the time and should also be trying to cut down on the number of journeys they take in order to help ease congestion and save money.

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

“And journeys under a mile and a half are in many ways the most expensive way to use a car, because your car's not warmed up, you're only going a short distance, and you've got to pay to park,"

Small habits could add up to significant change he said, citing AA research that showed only a five to 10 per cent drop in traffic was needed to make the difference between stop-start and free flowing traffic.

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

Around 20 per cent of AA members were also cyclists, he explained, adding that more would like to ride a bike but are put off by safety concerns. Around half of AA members would also consider replacing a car journey with a bike journey, he said.

Cyclists often don't use cycle lanes because they are poorly maintained or unsafe and the AA's own research showed a lack of them contributed to people staying away from using a bike for transport.

The government has committed to spending £3.68bn on active travel including cycling.

But earlier this month transport minister Lucy Frazer said that £4.4bn would actually be required to hit the government's goals for active travel use by 2025. 

Speaking in the House of Commons, she added: “Further, a minimum of £5.5bn is likely to be required to meet the objectives to 2030.” 

In response Matt Mallinder at Cycling UK said: "While we can but hope the Chancellor’s fiscal plan due at the end of the month will deliver an increase in active travel funding, it should at the very least maintain current levels to keep the nation moving and get Gear Change [the active travel plan] started."

On Monday the chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt said there were “many difficult decisions” on government spending to come and did not rule out cuts to any department.

King comes down in support of cycling and walking, urging the government to retain the funding.

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

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We have invested record amounts to enable more walking, wheeling and cycling through better infrastructure, cycle training and active travel prescriptions, and are committed to ensuring active travel remains high on our agenda.”

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