Effective today, thousands of miles of new protected bike lanes, cycle training for everyone and bikes available on prescription will be rolled out under new plans to overhaul cycling and walking in England launched by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The new initiative has been brought in by the PM to tackle the causes of ill health, reduce demand on the NHS and promote cycling for people’s physical and mental health.
The new plan aims to build on the significant increase in the number of people cycling during the pandemic. It sets out a comprehensive, long term vision to increase active travel and embed the benefits of walking and cycling into how we live, work and get around.
“From helping people get fit and healthy and lowering their risk of illness, to improving air quality and cutting congestion, cycling and walking have a huge role to play in tackling some of the biggest health and environmental challenges that we face,” said Johnson.
“But to build a healthier, more active nation, we need the right infrastructure, training and support in place to give people the confidence to travel on two wheels.
That’s why now is the time to shift gears and press ahead with our biggest and boldest plans yet to boost active travel – so that everyone can feel the transformative benefits of cycling.”
To encourage people to continue to take up cycling, cycle training will be made available for every child and adult who wants it, accessible through schools, local authorities or direct from cycle training schemes.
So that more people can make cycling part of their commute or daily routine, more cycle racks will be installed at transport hubs, town and city centres and public buildings, and funding will go towards new bike hangars and on street storage for people who don’t have space to keep a bike at home.
The commitments in the plan, which will be funded by the £2 billion of new money announced earlier this year for walking and cycling, also include building thousands of miles of protected cycle routes in towns and cities, boosting investment by creating a long term cycling programme, strengthening the Highway Code to better protect pedestrians and cyclists and supporting local authorities.
The project will also help increase access to e-bikes by setting up a new national e-bike programme, to help those who are older, have to travel long distances or are less fit to take up cycling.
Alongside the launch of the strategy, the first batch of bike repair vouchers worth £50 will be released to the public in a pilot scheme to encourage thousands of people get back into cycling.
By encouraging people to get their old bikes out of the back of the shed fixed and safe to ride, the scheme will help more people choose cycling over public transport as a convenient way to travel, for example when going to the shops or seeing friends.