Rutland Cycling, one of the UKs leading bicycle retailers, has thrown its support behind newly unveiled plans to fuel a boom in active travel, as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unveiled by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday, the plans include a £338 million package to boost cycling and walking across the country, and encompasses infrastructure upgrades, changes to The Highway Code and new requirements to ensure that active travel schemes are accurately assessed.
Karen Archer, Chief Executive of Rutland Cycling, said “Infrastructure for safe cycling and walking as a means of transport has always been a barrier for much of the general public when it comes to cycling as transport, and it is fantastic to see the government make this bold step to support active travel.”
The number of miles cycled on British roads rocketed by 45.7% in 2020 – more than in the previous 20 years put together – while independent opinion polling and new research has shown that active travel schemes are supported, on average, by a ratio of two-to-one.
The new funding is a 30% increase on the £257 million announced in last year’s spending review and will fund the construction of hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes, including improvements to the existing National Cycle Network.
Amongst the changes is an update to The Highway Code which introduces a hierarchy of road users which will outline how responsibility rests with the road users who could potentially cause the most harm to others. Further changes include strengthened pedestrian priority on pavements, guidance on safe passing distances and speeds and ensuring cyclists have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.
In addition, the new plans aim to make cycling easier and more accessible with a focus on electric bikes, and future support programmes to include funding and initiatives to get more people on e-bikes. “Electric bikes are essential to the future of active travel,” continues Karen Archer. “The assistance they provide, along with continuing improvements to technology, make cycling far more accessible as both a mode of transport and for fitness and leisure. As one of the UKs leading electric bike retailers, we have seen countless examples of electric bikes transforming people’s lives and we look forward to helping many more kickstart their cycling journey – electric or otherwise – in the coming months and years.”
The plans for a ‘Summer of Cycling and Walking’ builds on the £2bn Gear Change cycling and walking programme announced a year ago, and will play a key role in the government’s drive to build back greener from the pandemic and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.