Cyclists in the UK are living with the results of substantial under-investment in bicycle infrastructure, a leading biking group has claimed. Comments from Bristol-based Sustrans follow a recent UK government report outlining how it intends to spend up to £1.2 billion (US$1.532 billion) in a bid to double cycling by 2025.
Addressing the new strategy, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "We are making cycling and walking more accessible to everyone because of the substantial health and environmental benefits — it will also be a boost for businesses because a fitter and healthier workforce is more productive."
The government's stated aim is to encourage cycling and walking to become the norm by 2040.
"We now understand there is a huge appetite for change. Results from the biggest survey ever conducted on attitudes to cycling in the UK couldn't be clearer: there's a desire to cycle more but a lack of safe places to ride bikes is off-putting… We can only realise the potential of cycling and walking by improving infrastructure and the built environment… This will require political leadership and bold plans — nationally and locally, to create safe, joined-up, attractive streets for people of all ages and abilities to walk and cycle on," England's Policy Director at Sustrans, Jason Torrance, said.
Meanwhile, national cycling charity Cycling UK has dismissed the UK government funding plans as derisory saying that just £1.38 (US$1.76) per person in England is being made available for both walking and cycling while £15 billion (US$19.16 billion) has been earmarked to upgrade motorways and trunk roads during the same period.
Cycling UK has also criticized UK government plans to double cycling journeys, saying that once growth in London-based cycle trips, plus population growth, are factored in, the plans would simply boost cycle use from less than 2 percent of trips today to around 3.5 percent.
In Denmark cycling makes up 19 percent of trips, while in the Netherlands it is 27 percent. The Dutch government spends £24 (US$31) per person annually on cycling in the country.
Research by the University of Cambridge, undertaken in 2014, reiterates the health-cost implications saying that bolstering bicycle use could save the NHS £250 million (US$319) in inactivity-related illnesses if people replaced just five of the 36 minutes they spend each day in a car and instead went by bike.
Julian Huppert, a former Liberal Democrat MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said on Twitter: