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Chris Boardman on government apathy on cycling

22nd January 2014

Chris Boardman has criticised government apathy on cycling. In comments made to Bloomberg on 20th January 2014, he compared the UK unfavourably with New York. 'In New York there was the political will for change. In the UK it's more like positive apathy. Prime Minister David Cameron says he wants to make Britain a cycling nation, but what good is that if you have no participation target, no strategy and no funding commitment?'

According to the Bloomberg article, as many as 900,000 women in the UK, who would like to cycle, are put off by road safety fears.

Boardman told Road.cc, 'My issue is with statements and actions not yet matching. There is huge untapped demand. About 60% of people would travel regularly by bike if the environment looked safe and attractive.'

He continued, 'There's a £5.6billion annual Highways Agency budget for roads with a continuous revenue stream, versus £128million allocated for cycling and only committed for two years.' A quick calculation shows the cycling budget to be only 2.3% of the size of the roads budget.

Boardman told Road.cc that he would like to see a four-point plan from the government. This would involve:

1) A statement that walking and cycling are the preferred means of transport in the UK. The government would legislate, design infrastructure, and spend accordingly.

2) Defined national targets (with a timescale) for increasing walking and cycling.

3) A dedicated and consistent budget for cycling (£10 per person, initially, half that of the Netherlands).

4) A national monitoring scheme to assess progress.

As a former top-level athlete, and a businessman, Boardman knows that a target, strategy, commitment, and measuring progress, are vital to success. 'For any business to succeed, you define your target; where you want to get to. You then define how you are going to achieve that target in great detail and then you measure your progress closely, adjusting your strategy accordingly when you meet unforseen circumstances. It's that simple.'

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