Government plans to relax cycling by-laws

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of miles of cycle routes could be created across England following a move to make it easier for councils to scrap outdated local laws.

Bicycles are banned by-law from parks, seafront promenades and other public spaces in many parts of the country, forcing cyclists on to busy routes as they make their way to work.

Grant Shapps, the Local Government minister, will tomorrow announce he is telling councils they no longer have to receive permission from Whitehall to remove restrictive by-laws.

The initiative is part of a government effort to remove the red-tape facing many councils and to devolve decision-making to local communities.

But Mr Shapps said it would also have a spin-off by improving cyclists’ safety and encouraging people to use bikes.

He told the Independent: “There have been some crazy by-laws in place from the year dot stopping cycling from taking place. This should enable local people to scrap laws stopping people from getting on their bikes."

“Everyone is interested in looking after themselves and their health, as well as the environment, and cycling succeeds on both of those fronts.”

He urged town halls to re-examine their by-laws to identify routes away from busy roads that can be opened by to cyclists.

Mr Shapps said some authorities had already taken the step, including:

*Canterbury, where cyclists were allowed on to the promenade around Herne Bay as part of the National Cycle Network;

*Worthing, where the council also opened the promenade to cyclists.

*Harrogate, where cyclists will be able to use designated routes across the Stray, open land in the town centre, following changes to by-laws coming into effect next month.