Fourteen Olympic and Paralympic cycling stars are today calling on major towns and cities across Britain to make a public commitment to improve conditions on the road for people on bikes.
British Cycling’s policy adviser Chris Boardman is leading the way with a letter to council leaders in his home region of the Wirral. A further thirteen world champion cyclists, including Sir Chris Hoy, Dame Sarah Storey and Laura Trott have also today written to cities across Britain to ask them to choose cycling.
The Great Britain Cycling Team and Home Nation Teams are calling on local councils to implement the recommendations of British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling 10 point action plan, launched in Parliament in February.
The #ChooseCycling action plan sets out the actions that need to be taken to truly encourage hundreds of thousands more people to get around by bike.
British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, said:
“Britain is now one of the most successful cycling nations in the world but you wouldn’t know this from looking at the state of our nation’s roads and junctions. We’re getting it right on the world stage but the work that is being done at a local level is falling far short of the mark. If we truly want to convince the British public to choose cycling as their preferred form of transport and create healthier, more pleasant places to live, we need local leaders to make some radical changes and to be far more enterprising about how they are using their public spaces.
“It’s fantastic to see so many of the world’s most famous cycling commuters join me today by writing to local leaders to urge them to make a sustained and substantial commitment to prioritise cycling.”
Britain’s most successful ever Olympian, Sir Chris Hoy, said:
“If we want to inspire a transformation in communities across Britain – making them happier and healthier - cycling needs to be prioritised. There has never been a better moment to do this and councils must make some bold decisions now before it’s too late. We desperately need Britain’s roads to accommodate the needs of cyclists to encourage people of all ages to get on bikes.”
The following world champion cyclists have sent out a call to councils to truly transform cycling. They include:
- Olympic gold medallist and British Cycling policy adviser, Chris Boardman has written to Wirral Council
- Britain’s most successful Olympian Sir Chris Hoy has written to City of Edinburgh Council
- Britain’s most successful Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey has written to Manchester City Council
- Two-time Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton has written to Central Bedfordshire Council
- Two-time Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott has written to Essex County Council
- Current world champion Katie Archibald has written to Glasgow City Council
- Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armistead has written to Leeds City Council
- Olympian and mountain bike champion Annie Last has written to Derby City Council
- Olympian Jess Varnish has written to Birmingham City Council
- Current world BMX champion Liam Phillips has written to Bristol City Council
- World champion track cyclist Becky James has written to Cardiff City Council
- Olympic gold medallist Dani King has written to Southampton City Council
- Olympic gold medallist Joanna Rowsell has written to Surrey County Council
- Olympic medallist and now GB endurance coach Chris Newton has written to Newcastle City Council
The top three recommendations in British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling plan include:
- Accommodating cycling into the design of all new roads and junctions, known as ‘cycle-proofing;’;
- Meaningful and consistent levels of funding are required to make ‘cycle-proofing’ happen;
- Political leadership and measureable targets – as we’ve seen happen in London with Mayor Boris Johnson – are required to truly kick start a local transformation in the number of people getting on bikes.
Olympic gold medallist, Joanna Rowsell, added:
“Riding on the roads is a significant part of my training and it’s clear that conditions on the road just aren’t welcoming for people who choose to get around by bike. The problem is that our towns and cities just haven’t been designed with cycling in mind. We need to do something bold about this now – especially with another fantastic summer for cycling with the Commonwealth Games, the Women’s Tour, the Tour de France and Tour of Britain all coming to town. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.”
Recent Office of National Statistics data shows that an average of just 2.8% of people commuted by bike in 2011. This compares to 12% in York and 29% in South Cambridgeshire. These areas have consistently invested in cycle-friendly roads and junctions and are now reaping the benefits.
Evidence consistently shows that more people commuting by bike would benefit all parts of the community. British Cycling recently commissioned research from Cambridge University which showed that if Brits made just one in 10 of their weekly commuting trips by bike, it would save the NHS £2.5 billion over a decade in the cost of treating illnesses related to physical inactivity. More commuter cycling would also benefit employers; research in Holland by TNO has shown that people who commute by bike take one less sick day per year, on average, than their non-cycling counterparts.