Headlines: January 22nd, 2008

More towns and cities in England are to get a chance to bid for part of a 140 million pound investment in cycling. Among the proposals is an expansion of the Cycling Demonstration Towns project and the creation of the first demonstration city.

The package includes 110 million pounds of new money on top of the ten million already allocated to cycling promotion in each of the next three years. The plan includes up to ten new demonstration towns to build on the work of pilot schemes in Aylesbury, Brighton, Darlington, Derby, Exeter and Lancaster with Morecambe, which were set up to spread best practice. The new towns and the first large city to join the project will mean around three million more people will have access to improved cycling facilities. Bids from interested places will be sought in the Spring.

The package will also see half a million more 10-year-olds having ‘Bikeability’ cycle training by 2012 and the building of another 250 Safe Links to Schools, connecting them to the National Cycle Network. So far, some schools with links have seen a doubling of the number of pupils cycling to school. The Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly, said cycling could bring benefits to individuals in terms of fitness and to local communities as it could reduce congestion and improve local air quality.

“The results of both Bikeability and Cycle Demonstration Towns are hugely impressive and prove that by providing the right facilities and support more people are willing to get on their bikes. For example, Darlington has quadrupled the proportion of children cycling to school. Aylesbury has also seen a five-fold increase in residents using a bike as one of their two main means of transport in the last two years,” she said.

The funding package has been given to Cycling England, the body set up by Government to promote cycling, and its chairman, Phillip Darnton, said, “The bicycle really does have a role in helping meet England’s transport challenges. It is now taking its place as a proper mode of transport.”