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British Cycling says government must put cycling at heart of transport policy as part of Get Britain Cycling inquiry

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Published: 14 December 2012
Report: British Cycling

British Cycling has renewed its appeal for the government to put cycling at the heart of its transport policy as part of its submission to the All Party Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling inquiry.

The inquiry was launched on 5 November, to coincide with the anniversary of the terrible incident with an HGV which left Mary Bower, a Times’ journalist, critically injured. This incident was the catalyst which drove the Times to launch their excellent Cities Fit for Cycling campaign.

The inquiry has received all of its written evidence and evidence sessions will begin in the New Year. British Cycling has been heavily involved in supporting the inquiry, developing the evidence sessions and submitting written evidence.

The inquiry is examining the barriers which are preventing more people in this country getting on their bikes.

The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) co-chair, Julian Huppert, has tabled an Early Day Motion in support of the inquiry. So far 111 MPs have signed the motion. However, this needs to be signed by as many MPs as possible to ensure the inquiry is given the profile and attention it needs. If you haven’t already please write to your MP asking them to sign EDM 679 – Get Britain Cycling. You can find out who your MP is here

Our written submission includes the following key points:

"Record numbers of people are being inspired to get on their bikes but we’ve got a long way to go to make cycling as appealing and commonplace as it is in countries like Holland and Denmark. We need the government to show real leadership on cycling and put it at the heart of policy."

Martin Gibbs, British Cycling Policy and Legal Affairs Director

Olympic Legacy: In the 20 years since Chris Boardman’s gold medal in Barcelona, the first cycling medal in 72 years, we have established ourselves as world class in the sport of cycling. The challenge now is to translate this success into an Olympic legacy of a cycling nation.

Putting cycling at the heart of government policy: British Cycling believes it is common sense that in order to encourage more people to cycling, transport policies must take account of and prioritise cycling. If Britain is to be a cycling nation like the Netherlands or Denmark, where cycling is considered a normal everyday choice for everyone, then political leadership is essential to make the necessary policy choices.

Mutual respect: Our members believe that an essential element to improving cycling in this country is increasing the level of mutual respect on the roads. Good behaviour for all road users should be more rigorously encouraged.

Justice review: British Cycling is calling on the Ministry of Justice for a complete review of how the justice system operates in cases of bad driving when people are hurt on the roads. We believe that it is often the case that these incidents are dealt with in a way that sends out the wrong message about how well the law protects people when they are on their bikes.

HGVs: Given the proportion of serious incidents which involve Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV), this should be a priority. British Cycling believes that the best safety measures including mirrors and sensors should be mandatory, the exemptions on fitting side bars should be discontinued and that HGV driver training should include meaningful cycle awareness training.

Cycling infrastructure: Much more needs to be done at junctions and on the roads to make them fit for cycling. We badly need a policy that commits planners to ensure that all future infrastructure will be designed with the requirements of cycling properly incorporated.

20mph limits: The evidence here and abroad that lower traffic speeds are effective is compelling. For example a recent lengthy study by The Transport Research Laboratory concluded that the single most effective way of improving the safety of cyclists is the widespread introduction of 20mph limits. The British Attitudes Survey found that 71% of people want 20mph limits where they live.

International best practice: If we look to cycling nations such as Denmark and the Netherlands, cycling is part of every-day life because they have made the policy choices that favour cycling. Both countries had decreasing levels of cycling in the 1960s and 70s, and both chose to change this by investing in cycling. As a result both have seen their cycling rates shoot up and casualties reduced. We can learn from their choices.

Training: Cycle training should be available to all school children to enable them to develop good cycling skills and to experience the joy of cycling; a passion which has the potential to then stay with them throughout their lives.

British Cycling member and APPCG co-Chair, Ian Austin said: “It’s great that all the political parties have expressed support for the campaign, but the time has come for the government to commit to real change in the way Britain’s transport system is run to make cycling safer and get more people on their bikes.”

Chris Boardman said “I am pleased to be asked to give oral evidence to the Inquiry. What we need to do is stop and say ‘where do we want to get to?’ And that is what this Inquiry is about, identifying what is putting people off riding their bikes so that we can make the policy choices that will make cycling an attractive choice for everyone. That’s the sort of country I want to live in and with political leadership, commitment and investment we can get there.”

Martin Gibbs, Policy and Legal Affairs Director said: “British Cycling is really pleased to be involved in the much needed Get Britain Cycling inquiry and to support the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group. In many ways cycling is in great shape in this country, we’ve had fantastic success at the Olympics and Paralympics and in July we had the first British winner of the Tour de France. Record numbers of people are being inspired to get on their bikes but we’ve got a long way to go to make cycling as appealing and commonplace as it is in countries like Holland and Denmark. We need the government to show real leadership on cycling and put it at the heart of policy.”

To find out more about the inquiry click here.