• Country

United Kingdom Launches a £2-Billion Cycling Revolution

By Monica Buck

Boris Johnson, the UK’s Prime Minister, vowed earlier this year to bring about the golden age of cycling. Yesterday, on July 28, he made an announcement that has lived up to cycling campaigners’ expectations. There’ll be protected lanes, tax cuts for e-bikes, vouchers for bike repairs and much more. The cost adds up to £2 billion.

As the United Kingdom came out of the lockdown, authorities were afraid people would stay away from public transport and jump into their cars instead. That would create even more congestion and further problems in towns and cities. Cycling is the obvious solution to the problem and UK’s PM is well aware of that.

Hear it from Boris Johnson himself: “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.

Boris Johnson, left with Darren Henry the Conservative MP for Broxtowe, at the Canal Side Heritage Centre in Beeston near Nottingham, England. © Profimedia

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.”

Main commitments of the “cycling revolution”

Cycle training will be made available for every child and adult who wants it, accessible through schools, local authorities or directly from cycle-training schemes

• More cycle racks will be installed at transport hubs, town and city centres, and public buildings

• Setting higher standards for cycling infrastructure

• Funding will go towards new bike hangars and on-street storage for people who don’t have the space to keep their bike at home

• Boosting investment by 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

• Supporting local authorities by empowering them to crack down on traffic offences

• Improving air quality and reducing traffic by creating more low-traffic neighbourhoods, intensive funding of 12 new areas known as ‘Mini Hollands’ to become more cycle friendly, and creating at least one zero-emission city transport centre

• Piloting a new approach in selected places with poor health rates to encourage GPs to prescribe cycling, with patients able to access bikes through their local medical professionals

• 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 unassisted cycling

Boris Johnson Cycling
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks to the owner of the Cycle Lounge, Rodney Rouse, in a bicycle repair shop Beeston near Nottingham, England. © Profimedia

Alongside all this, the first batch of the bike-repair vouchers worth £50 will be released to the public for further encouragement.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, added: “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.

“By helping to fix your bike – or get an electrically-powered one; by increasing storage space at stations, on trains and buses; and by introducing more ways to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe, we’re making it easier than ever to make active travel part of your daily life, and leading England to become a great cycling nation.”

Sounds like a well-thought-out plan. What do you think? Let us know!