Emergency cycle lanes and zero VAT on bikes are among the measures needed in the UK after lockdown, according to the Bicycle Association.
The national trade body for the cycle industry has approached the government with a bold package of proposals to keep the country moving as the coronavirus lockdown is eased.
With public transport use expected to be down, we could see a dramatic rise in drives on the road unless cycling is promoted as an alternative, the Bicycle Association has said.
Building pop-up bike lanes, a zero VAT “holiday” for all bikes,ne-bikes and cycle repairs, and subsidies for repairs are among the proposals being put to the government.
BA executive director Steve Garidis said: “eagerness to get out on two wheels and enjoy the reliable transport, healthy exercise and low-cost mobility that cycling offers depends heavily on the roads being, and feeling, safe to ride. That’s why the BA believes it is essential that the Government steps in to ensure that across the country, urgent measures are taken to make cycling for transport feel safe, and with enough road space to ensure social distancing can be properly maintained.”
He added: “Bold actions which would have been almost unthinkable before this pandemic are now a logical necessity. I just can’t see any realistic alternative to putting in place effective measures to enable mass cycling, if we want to keep cities moving while public transport remains restricted. And the time to act is now, ahead of traffic levels rising as lockdown eases.”
Government ministers are expected to loosen lockdown restrictions in the coming weeks, urging people to return to work.
But commuters who routinely use public transport may opt to drive instead if they feel busy trains and buses are unsafe, while transport unions have warned that it will take time to get public transport back up to full capacity.
The BA is suggesting that the government introduce a £250 grant for anyone buying an e-bike, as well as a £50 bike repair voucher as has been introduced in France.
Extending the Cycle to Work Scheme, offering refresher cycling courses for adults and helping businesses pay for secure cycle parking would all help get people on bikes, the organisation said.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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