Headlines: September 22nd, 2008

A new partnership has been established to persuade local councils of the importance of cycling. Cycling England has launched the partnership with the think-tank the Local Government Information Unit with the aim of increasing the numbers of people cycling in areas across the whole of England with the exception of London.

Under the agreement the LGiU will in November organise a call for evidence followed by a regional inquiry in spring next year to identify what changes could be made so that local authorities are more effective in raising the profile of cycling. The inquiry will also seek to iron out any obstacles to change and to establish how local councils can improve local infrastructure to ensure cycling is safer and provide more cycle training for people to make using a bike a genuine transport option.

Dr Andy Johnston, head of the LGiU’s Centre for Local Sustainability, said the partnership wanted to help councils to restore public confidence in cycling by making it more enjoyable and convenient. “By providing better cycling infrastructure, training and bike facilities, we can inform local people that getting on a bike couldn’t be easier,” he said.

The LGiU also believes people should be educated about the health benefits of cycling. “If we increase the number of cyclists, we can improve the local environment, ease congestion and enhance people’s fitness,” said Dr Johnson.

The partnership will also work with the 18 cycling demonstration areas to help them become cycle friendly. Cycling England announced the final 11 demonstration areas in June. They include York, Blackpool, Colchester and Shrewsbury and it has named Bristol as England’s first “cycling city”. Phillip Darnton, who chairs Cycling England, said unprecedented levels of Government investment in cycling meant this was an exciting time for his organisation. He added, “The LGiU will play a key role in making the case for cycling to local authorities, demonstrating how cycling can deliver a wide range of local targets, and sharing best practice from the newly expanded network of Cycling Towns.”