The report opens with a bold and concise message that pulls no punches: "Too many people in the UK feel they have no choice but to travel in ways that are dangerous, unhealthy, polluting and costly, not just to their own wallets but also to the public purse. Urgent action is required to address Britain’s chronic levels of obesity, heart disease, air pollution and congestion...
There is an alternative. When more people cycle or walk, public health improves, obesity reduces and roads become safer. By changing how people travel, we can create places where people want to live, work, shop and do business. We can make people healthier, happier and wealthier. We can save huge costs to our NHS.
To realise the full potential of this vision will require a fundamental cultural shift in the way we think about the way we travel. Cycling needs to be not just a personal option, when we decide how to travel for work, school or leisure, but as a core issue when planning our streets, roads, buildings and communities."
Cyclists on London's Bethnal Green Road
Over 200 people had signed the petition within an hour of it going live last night, with the list of signatures growing rapidly this morning.
Julian Huppert (Lib Dem, Cambridge), co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said: “For it to become reality, it needs leadership from the very top, the Prime Minister. It is down to him to show that this matters to him and to the country.”
In a powerful Editorial in The Times today, new editor John Witherow states: "Cycling has been good for David Cameron. The Prime Minister has used cycling to help brand himself a modern Conservative: young, down to earth and environmentally conscious. Now it is time for him to be good for cycling."
The report's 18 recommendations include;
- Funding of £10 to £20 per head of population per annum across the country for cycling
- A dramatic increase not just in the volume of people cycling but their diversity too
- Reallocation of road space for cycle routes running parallel to roads but separated from traffic, and connecting with routes and networks of enhanced off-road cycle paths, bridleways, disused railways and similar.
- A revision of existing cycle design guides, following the witness from the Highways Agency admitting his staff had little or no training or technical knowledge in designing for cyclists.
- Improved lorry safety through vehicle design
- Teaching children to cycle as part of the National Curriculum, just as they are for swimming
Cyclists in Copenhagen, Denmark,
where 50% of journeys to work are by bicycle
There has never been this level of sustained focus on cycling at a political level in this country before. Some may point out that reports about riding bikes in Britain have come and gone before. That's as may be, but this report comes on the back of Olympic and Tour de France cycling euphoria, as more people cycle across the country than in many decades previously, and with the energy and focus of a united bicycle campaigning establishment (a rare thing!) as well as The Times thundering on our behalf. This report, and the pressure pushing for this change, will not go away - but we need your help to really make change happen. The time is now.
Each and every concerned cyclist, would-be bike rider, and proud parent who dreams of a better country for their children has to today step up to be the change they want to see.
We must each of us sign the petition, and then tell our friends to do the same. Let your cycling club mates know, mention it at your school coffee morning. Call your Mum! Add the link to your Facebook profile and ask all your friends to sign up too if they'd like to see safer roads for their mate to ride on! Here's the link to the petition - get busy!
The last word once again goes to cycling champion and Olympic hero Chris Boardman writing in The Times;
"If we fail it won’t be because people don’t like cycling, it will be because it’s just easier in the short term to do nothing, to pretend we can’t afford it, to say it’s someone else’s responsibility or pretend we’ll do it without making an honest long-term commitment.
It’s apathy and lack of leadership that will continue to make us fat and our roads unpleasant places. ... it doesn’t have to be like this, our Government can change it."
Let's ensure the Government hears our voices and truly commits to Get Britain Cycling!