Expert jury /How can Britain get back on its bike?

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The Independent Online
What would it take to turn the British into a nation of cyclists?

Charlie Lloyd

Campaigns Director, London Cycling Campaign

At the moment, the government spends a tiny fraction of one per cent of the transport budget on cycling, even though it accounts for 2.5 per cent of all journeys, and possibly even 4 per cent of all journeys to work.

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution suggested that by 2005, we ought to aim for 10 per cent of all journeys in Britain to be made by bike. We would like to see 30 per cent of car journeys in London transferred to bikes by the year 2000. In most European cities it's about 15 per cent.

People don't cycle because they feel it's dangerous. We need safe cycle networks connecting homes, schools and workplaces, and ordinary roads need to be made safer for cyclists. What converted me to cycling were the expressions on people's faces when they turned up to work. People who had driven in were wound up, people who had come on public transport were depressed, and those who had cycled were the only ones with smiles on their faces.

Dr Fleur Fischer

Head of Science, British Medical Association

We think the government should positively discriminate in favour of cycling.

Cycling improves strength and endurance, reduces the risk of heart disease, and contributes to lower weight and blood pressure. It's a health benefit to the community, because cycling doesn't pollute as car driving does. The government should put cyclist training on the national curriculum in schools and introduce random breath-testing for car drivers.

Edmund King

RAC Head of Campaigns

You've got to be realistic about this - you can't be too idealistic. Cycling will never be an answer to all our transport problems. There are some journeys where people can obviously cycle - journeys to work, round the corner to the shops. But you can't deliver goods to a shop in Oxford St on a bike, and some people don't seem to understand that.

In fact, about 50 per cent of the people in the RAC office cycle to work every day.

Richard Diment

Director, British Roads Federation

The sort of noises the government have been making have been fairly encouraging. It seems to recognise the need for people to ride their bikes safely on the roads and that sort of thing. The British Roads Federation is in favour of this - we're currently part of the campaign for a national cycle network.

The government could spend more money on cycling quite easily - it would cost about pounds 20m or pounds 30m to create a national cycle network - that's out of an annual DoT budget of pounds 5bn.

Jon Snow

Channel 4 News Presenter

The government should be promoting cycling. I'd like to see a network of urban cycleways - not just paint on the roads, but proper segregated cycle routes, as you see in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and other European capitals. That might mean roads should be reduced in width - one less lane for cars, for instance.

I cycle to work every day. I always know how long it will take me - 12 minutes from home to work, eight minutes from work to Downing Street. I think the dangers of cycling in London are exaggerated, but you have to cycle on the basis that everyone else on the road is mad.

But everyone should cycle more - what they put on in carbon monoxide poisoning they'll shed in carbohydrates.