David Cameron has said he wants to start a "cycling revolution", and he has promised £77million investment in cycle schemes in 8 cities including Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, together with a further £14million investment in schemes in National Parks including Dartmoor.
In announcing the funds, the prime minister referred to the recent sporting successes in cycling as a kick start for more people riding bikes. And it does seem that in some areas - London and Exeter for example, there has been a big increase in cycle trips.
But will the investment be enough to really make a difference and get more people riding bikes throughout Great Britain? We have seen three consecutive years of significant increases in cycle collisions and injuries nationally, and many people still quote road risk as the main reason for not getting out there and riding - for example national champion Becky James when referring to cycling in London was recently quoted as saying that "not many people would want to risk their life doing that". This despite the substantial body of academic research that demonstrates the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the road risks.
We at TMS welcome the government's new found interest in cycling and commitment to infrastructure improvements. (We also recall that this is the same government that suspended Cycle England and reduced the previous government's spend on cycling). We are particularly interested in their intention to cut red tape to facilitate "cycle friendly planning". It would be great to see innovative cycle schemes at the design stage that are convenient to use, direct between origins and destinations, and free from the threat of motor traffic. We suspect that in order to facilitate such a change, planners and designers will themselves need to undergo a bit of a cultural change, and begin to see cycling as a priority form of transport, rather than as a "bolt on" at the end if there's a bit of road space left.
One place for transportation professionals to start this change could be on one of our "Can we make our Roads Safer for Cyclists" courses. For more details please refer to the training section of our web site.