Cycling under threat in UK

Bike industry reacts to Daily Telegraph report on potential Government cuts

Over the weekend the national press has reported on an 'uncertain future' for Cycling England and the Bikeability project.

An article in the Daily Telegraph said that Government cuts affecting public bodies, added to the news that the Department for Transport will have its budget slashed by £683 million, have led to that unsure future.

The results of the coalition's study into which public bodies should be shelved will be available 'within weeks'.

The threat of cuts to cycling investment come months after the DfT's own report that showed investment in cycling pays the Government back three-to-one.

The industry has raised its voice in support of Cycling England and Bikeability, which provides cycle training to over 200,000 children every year.

Sustrans policy director Peter Lipman told the Telegraph: “We are hearing rumours that it will not survive the bonfire of the quangos.

“Out concern is what that would mean for the test. If Cycling England goes, who would set the standards and run the programme?

“I remember doing the test in the 1970s and getting a little badge when I passed. Thousands of children used to attach them to their bikes.”

A Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents spokesperson also spoke in support of Bikeability to the paper: “Cycle training is very important and cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users.”

“While we recognise in the current economic climate nothing can be ring fenced, not even road safety, we do want to encourage people to cycle.”

The Campaign for Better Transport exec director Stephen Joseph added: “Everybody says we need to get more people on bikes. If we abolish the test, we will get less.

“The Government needs to make sure some structure is in place to make sure that cycle training carries on.”

Cycle-SOS's Paul Darlington wrote to the paper to voice his support: "The consequences of scrapping Cycling England and all of its initiatives would be felt for decades and  must at all costs be avoided.

"The benefits of the uptake of cycling are incontrovertible and are already well rehearsed, including social, health and environmental factors. As the 2012 Olympics hove into view the likely successes of British Cycling will result in another generation starting cycling. This, combined with all of the enterprises currently running in the Cycling Demonstration Towns and the adoption of the tax efficient Business Bikes scheme has led to the greatest increase in cycling since the War. However, as traffic levels rise, the importance of cycle training cannot be impeached."

Despite the support a DfT spokesperson was unable to confirm that Cycling England would survive the cuts:

“The Cabinet Office is reviewing all arms length bodies and an announcement will be made in due course.

“The coalition Government is absolutely committed to supporting sustainable travel initiatives - including cycling - and we are in the process of considering how this best can be achieved.”