Three cheers for Boris !!!

Last year, the Government published Gear Change: a bold vision for cycling and walking  Gear change .    

Twelve months later it has been followed up by Gear Change: One Year On  .  In his Foreword, the Prime Minister says:

“Since last year, cycling in England has risen by 46 per cent – the greatest increase in postwar history….. Hundreds of new schemes have created safe space for people to cycle and walk, supported pubs and restaurants that might otherwise have closed, and allowed us to get the exercise we need…. So this document seeks not just to celebrate the success of our policies – but to repeat our commitment to them, to bust some of the myths about them, and to show how we will do more.”

Gear Change: One Year On sets out a wide range of commitments including:

  • 30% increase in funding from the amount announced at the Spending Review
  • Delivery of more cycle lanes, low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) and school streets
  • Reduction in funding to councils that do not take active travel seriously
  • Inviting bids for Active Travel prescribing pilots by GPs and others to overcome health inequalities and increase physical activity
  • Training a further 1,000 Bikeability instructors to offer training to every child and adult who wants it
  • Launching an electric bike pilot programme enabling more people to access e-cycles

The Introduction warns that England’s urban roads are “filling up” with “often unsuitable” side-streets experiencing traffic growth of a third between 2010 and 2019.    It continues:

“There are only a few ways to deal with the enormous growth in demand for roadspace. The first way is building more roads in urban areas, which is politically and practically difficult in most cities, with little public support for the demolitions of private property which would be required. There is also evidence that it does not work, simply attracting more traffic. The second way is building more railways, which takes decades. The third is some form of congestion charging, as in London. The fourth is to make better use of the roads we already have, by encouraging vehicles such as buses and bikes that take up less space per passenger. In the short and medium term, this is the only way to keep the roads moving for the traffic that most needs to use them.”

Picking up on this theme, the PM says:

“I know many people think that cycling and walking schemes simply increase car traffic on other roads. But there is now increasing evidence that they do not. We sometimes think of traffic as like water: if you block a stream in one place, it will find the next easiest way. Of course some journeys by car are essential, but traffic is not a force of nature. It is a product of people’s choices. If you make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, more people choose to walk and cycle instead of driving, and the traffic falls overall.”

Mr Johnson continues:

“I support councils, of all parties, which are trying to promote cycling and bus use. And if you are going to oppose these schemes, you must tell us what your alternative is, because trying to squeeze more cars and delivery vans on the same roads and hoping for the best is not going to work.”

Emphasising the point that cycling should not be used as a political football, the PM describes LTN schemes he funded in east London when Mayor: 

“There was intense controversy: hundreds of protestors carried a golden coffin to symbolise the “death” we were supposedly causing to the local shops. But the [Labour-controlled Waltham Forest] council stuck it out, thank goodness. Now, the local shops and cafes have never been busier, air quality is up, opposition to the LTN has evaporated, and so has some of the traffic. That is the future I want to see for a lot more places, and this plan will help achieve it.”

Get Sutton Cycling welcomes the commitment to cycling at the very top of Government that Gear Change:  One Year On so clearly demonstrates.

Posted in Advocacy
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