Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have suggested that the UK could see a “golden age of cycling,” but cycling campaigners have warned that radical funding is needed to make it a reality.
As the UK looks ahead to easing the coronavirus lockdown in the coming weeks and months, cycling could become a priority for the government to avoid added congestion on the roads as people turn to work.
Charity Cycling UK has said that the government needs to act quickly to invest in cycling, to bring about this “golden age.”
Responding to the Prime Minister’s comments, Cycling UK head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore, said: “He’s right, it should be [a golden age], but it won’t unless the government provides the long-term investment needed to meet its own targets for cycling and walking and to decarbonise transport.
“Transforming the way people travel, providing a realistic alternative to private car use or mass transit, and delivering a golden age of cycling, that requires radically increased investment in cycling and walking, and a change in transport investment priorities.”
Cycling UK said that the government would need to pour between £6-£8 billion into cycling over the next five years, “a fraction” of the £27 billion road building budget.”
The charity has also said that 100 miles of pop-up cycle lanes in 10 cities could help millions cycle safely after lockdown, while their campaign calling on councils to build these cycle routes has seen 5,551 members of the public write to their councillors in support.
Working with researchers from the Department for Transport-funded Cycling Infrastructure project, Cycling UK discovered that 99.2 miles of cycle lanes in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Leicester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Cambridge, could be converted to temporary cycling and walking infrastructure.
Manchester is ahead of the curve, as Transport for Greater Manchester has already announced £5 million of emergency funding for emergency infrastructure, benefitting cyclists and walkers.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament on Wednesday (May 6), Johnson said: “A crucial part of our success now in getting transport to run safely. We’ll be running a bigger and more expansive tube service, so that people can observe social distancing we will certainly be working with Mayor [of London, Sadiq Khan] to try to achieve that.
“There must be mitigations to help people who cannot use mass transit and there’ll be a huge amount of planning going into helping people to get to work, other than by mass transit.
“This should be a new golden age for cycling.”
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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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