Key signals cycling U-turn

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The Independent Online
A NEW policy to encourage cycling will be announced today by Robert Key, the roads minister, ending years of government antagonism to it.

Mr Key is expected to recognise that cycling is an efficient and economical form of transport, a clear departure from previous policy which was to deter cycling because of the higher accident rate per mile. His statement, however, will be heavy on exhortation but light on commitments. He will encourage local authorities to consider the needs of cyclists, he wants employers to provide showers and parking facilities, and he wants cycling to be recognised 'as a sensible means of local transport'.

Cycling groups, which had hoped for money to build cycle routes and national targets to increase the number of cyclists, will be disappointed. Mr Key will not force local authorities to spend any of the pounds 800m they receive for transport projects on cycling facilities, although he will encourage them to do so.

Earlier this week, as part of National Bike Week, the Cyclists' Public Affairs Group published an analysis of local authority spending on transport which showed only pounds 5m per year was spent on cycling schemes. The Department of Transport spends pounds 2bn per year on new road schemes, but nothing on cycling.

Other issues taken up by Mr Key will include encouraging cyclists to wear helmets; encourage traffic calming measures to slow traffic; and more parking for cycles at shops, schools, factories and stations.