The push for cycling needs to be backed by funding, not just words

Eleanor Besley presents the results of Sustrans' new report on cycling, and argues that good intentions and supportive words just aren't enough.


The Times’s high-profile cities fit for cyclists campaign has brought together organisations and individuals with a wide range of interests. As the pressure builds and the debate is taken to the House of Commons, Sustrans’s Eleanor Besley asks whether David Cameron is going to put his money where his mouth is

On February 23rd more than one hundred Members of Parliament are expected to get involved in the three-hour debate initiated by Julian Huppert MP and welcomed by Sir George Young, Leader of the House of Commons.

In a recent statement to The Times, the prime minister set out very clear support for the campaigning by the newspaper.

With so much interest in the debate, hardened cyclists and the bike averse are already locking horns. But what will it take for cycling to be a viable option for local journeys for everyone?

A survey published today by Sustrans shows more than half (56 per cent) of us fear urban roads are unsafe to cycle on and 70 per cent want residential speed limits to be dropped to 20 miles per hour to make them safer.

The health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks, but as the number of cyclists rise, so have the number of people killed and seriously injured. Instead of accepting this as an inevitable, we must make sure the approach from national and local government will give everyone the best possible chance of a safe journey.

Sustrans has been working with a wide group of organisations ahead of the debate on Thursday. Our briefing (pdf) highlights the key changes that could make cycling safer for everyone from lycra-clad racers to mums on the school run.

Sixty five per cent of those that don’t cycle regularly would be more likely to travel by bike if their journeys are made safer through lower speed limits, more marked cycle lanes and more care taken by drivers and other cyclists.

We desperately need all these things – and the ongoing funding commitment that would make them a reality.

With 50 per cent of our car trips under two miles, we’d like to create an environment where cycling was the obvious choice for many of us. The big question is, when Norman Baker enters the House on Thursday, will he have support from the PM to make a real difference?

See also:

As Times launches Save our Cyclists campaign, perhaps now TfL will listenGeorge Readings, February 3rd 2012

Here’s what Boris didn’t say…Alex Hern, October 4th 2011

It shouldn’t be the case that prosperity means more trafficRichard Bourn, June 15th 2011

City Hall Tories accused of jeopardising cyclists’ safetyShamik Das, June 8th 2011

Cameron’s failure to wear cycle helmet “irresponsible”George Readings, April 7th 2010

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