Headlines: March 30th, 2009

Councils should have more powers to create areas in which cyclists are given priority over cars, according to a national inquiry. The investigation, led by the think-tank the Local Government Information Unit, has concluded that transport regulations need to be reviewed.

Its findings suggest such a review would lead to local authorities being given more control over cycling routes as a method of getting more people out of their cars and onto their bikes. The LGiU says councils would be able to design streets in a way that favoured cyclists while still being accessible to cars and pedestrians.

The think-tank said that each car driver converted to using a bicycle saved the UK economy about 400 pounds a year through such things as lower medical bills and reduced costs of congestion and pollution, according to research carried out by Cycling England. The inquiry report, “Active Communities: Cycling to a better quality of life”, also calls for public buildings to be exemplars of good practice to encourage cycling, through such measures as creating bike storage facilities and loan schemes.

Gemma Roberts, policy analyst at the LGiU Centre for Local Sustainability said councils should have the power to ensure more roads were cycle friendly, ensuring it was easier and safer for people to ride. She said: “Local authorities need to take the lead and make cycling a priority in their communities,” and added, “Efforts to promote cycling do not stop with the council. We also need the professional and political backing to invest more heavily in cycling so we can really tackle some of the wider issues communities face, such as obesity, climate change and congestion.”