The Government has set out its vision to make England a ‘great walking and cycling nation’, pledging to put in place the right infrastructure, training and support to kickstart a revolution.
The plan, announced by prime minister Boris Johnson on 28 July, aims to build on the significant increase in the number of people cycling during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It sets out a ‘comprehensive, long term vision’ to embed the benefits of walking and cycling into daily lives.
Under the plan, the Government will build ‘thousands of miles’ of protected cycle routes in towns and cities, underpinned by new higher standards for cycling infrastructure.
Cycle training will be made available for every child and adult who wants it, accessible through schools, local authorities or direct from cycle training schemes.
As reported yesterday (27 July), GPs will be encouraged to prescribe cycling, with patients able to access bikes through their local surgery.
Other initiatives include:
- Installing more cycle racks at transport hubs, town and city centres and public buildings, as well as new bike hangars and on street storage for people who don’t have space to keep a bike at home
- Improving the National Cycle Network
- Creating a long term cycling programme and budget to ensure a guaranteed pipeline of funding
- Making streets safer by consulting to strengthen the Highway Code to better protect pedestrians and cyclists
- Creating more low traffic neighbourhoods to reduce rat running, including by consulting on communities’ right to close side streets – including putting in place more ‘School Streets’ to reduce traffic by schools
- Funding for 12 new ‘Mini Hollands’ and creating at least one zero-emission transport city centre
- Increasing access to e-bikes by setting up a new national e-bike programme, to help those who are older, have to travel long distances or are less fit to take up cycling
The commitments in the plan will be funded by the £2bn of new money announced earlier this year for walking and cycling.
Boris Johnson said: “From helping people get fit and healthy and lowering their risk of illness, to improving air quality and cutting congestion, cycling and walking have a huge role to play in tackling some of the biggest health and environmental challenges that we face.
“But to build a healthier, more active nation, we need the right infrastructure, training and support in place to give people the confidence to travel on two wheels.
“That’s why now is the time to shift gears and press ahead with our biggest and boldest plans yet to boost active travel – so that everyone can feel the transformative benefits of cycling.”
Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said: “We’ve got a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a shift in attitudes for generations to come, and get more people choosing to cycle or walk as part of their daily routine.
“The measures we’ve set out today in this revolutionary plan will do just that. No matter your age, how far you’re travelling, or your current confidence on a bike – there are plans to help and support you.”
‘A big step forward’
The announcement has been warmly welcomed by stakeholders, with walking and cycling charity Sustrans describing it as ‘a big step forward’.
Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans, said: “By helping more people to leave the car at home for shorter journeys, this package of measures will cut pollution, tackle the causes of poor health, and improve the safety of our streets.
“Sustrans supports efforts to radically improve the quality of walking and cycling infrastructure.
“The majority of the public supports investment in walking and cycling, and it is now vital that the benefits of walking and cycling are felt by everyone”.
Matt Mallinder, director of the charity Cycling UK, said the plan “places cycling at the heart of our towns and cities”.