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British Cycling launches 'Time to #ChooseCycling' manifesto

10th February 2014

British Cycling has launched a manifesto called 'Time to Choose Cycling', accompanied by research showing the health benefits of cycling. 

Time to choose cycling manifesto: research by Cambridge University

To accompany the manifesto launch, British Cycling presented research they had commissioned from Dr James Woodcock, of the Centre of Diet and Activity Research at Cambridge University. The research shows that if 10% of trips in the UK were made by bike, instead of the current 2%, there would be a £250m per year saving, due to a reduction in inactivity-related diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke). This would also mean that Brits could gain one million extra healthy life years over the next decade.

Dr Woodcock said, 'Cycling is a great way for people to embed physical activity in their everday lives. If we can get people to stay active throughout their lives then it can made a huge difference to their health. To make cycling a mass activity in Britain, as it is in the Netherlands, is going to require both environments that make cyclists feel safe and a culture that says cycling is a normal way for people to get around - whatever their age.' 

Time to choose cycling manifesto: manifesto launch by Chris Boardman

The Time to Choose Cycling manifesto was launched at a reception in Parliament. Chris Boardman, British Cycling's policy adviser, who is at Westminster to give evidence to the Commons Transport Select Committee today (10th February 2014), said, 'In the 1970s, the Netherlands made a conscious choice to put people first and make cycling and walking their preferred means of transport. It is no coincidence that they are also one of the healthiest and happiest nations in the world. Local and national government needs to wake up and realise that cycling is the solution to so many of the major problems Britain is now facing.'

Amongst the manifesto's recommendations are that government spend £10 per head on cycling, as against the current £2 (and £75 for roads). It also calls for the Highway Code to be revised, to remove the recommendation to wear hi-viz and helmets.

Time to choose cycling manifesto: the ten recommendations

The recommendations are as follows:

1. Cycle-proofing all roads and junctions in new infrastructure plans. This is to target the 64% of people who are not confident cycling in traffic. Cycle-proofing can also be retro-fitted to existing roads.

2. Meaningful and consistent levels of investment. This should be £10 per head, rising to £20. (The equivalent figure in the Netherlands is £24; the current figure in the UK is £2, only committed for two years).

3. Consistent political leadership for cycling, with long-term cycling action plans, and measurable targets. There must be responsibility on senior figures in national and local government.

4. Improving the justice system to protect and support vulnerable road users. Laws against bad driving need to protect all road users from intimidation and injury. There needs to be proper enforcement of laws against bad driving, and appropriate, not lenient sentences.

5. Make cycle awareness part of the driving test. All drivers should be tested on their ability to drive safely near people on bikes. At the moment, it is a matter of chance whether there happen to be cyclists on the route during a driving test.

6. Improve the Highway Code, by adding new overtaking standards, and removing advice to wear particular clothing. The experiences of British Cycling's members in relation to the amount of space given by overtaking vehicles are 'mixed'. In France, motorists must allow 1m in urban areas, and 1m50 in the countryside, and this should be adopted in the UK. Advising cyclists to wear a uniform is detrimental to the aim of normalising cycling as an everyday activity.

7. Road and cycle safety campaigns which concentrate on reducing risk at source. The recent Think! campaign was rolled out in a limited number of cities, with limited funding. There has never been a national 'mutual respect' campaign, and one is now overdue.

8. Improve the design of HGVs, to make sure they are fit to drive safely on our roads. HGVs are 5% of traffic, but are involved in 20% of cycle fatalities in Britain, and 50% in London. Action required includes safer cab design, and retro-fitting existing HGVs with blind-spot reducing mirrors, and side guards.

9. Make cycling safety part of the curriculum for children. Bikeability is only available to 50% of school children in England, and a lower percentage in Wales.

10. Make it easier and cheaper for councils to reduce speed limits in urban and residential areas. Reducing speed limits is the most effective way of improving safety for all road users. British Cycling suggest a default limit of 20mph in residential and urban streets. Regarding rural roads, the manifesto says, 'Although the majority of cycle casualties take place on urban roads, those that occur on rural roads are likely to be more severe. This is because the speed of the vehicles involved is likely to be higher. Many rural roads are unsuitable for the current national speed limit of 60mph, therefore we support measures to reduce traffic speed on roads that are not compatible for creating segregated cycle lanes.'

 

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