A strategy to get Britons back on bicycles was announced yesterday by Sir George Young, the Secretary of State for Transport, but with no promise of extra funds, writes Christian Wolmar.
The Government, setting its first target for transport, wants to see the proportion of journeys by bicycle doubled by 2002 from its present level of just under 2 per cent, and quadrupled 10 years later. This would mean reversing a trend which has seen the proportion of journeys halved since 1975.
The idea is to make Britain more like the Continent. While cycling has been declining in the UK because of government indifference and hostility, in Europe it has grown or stayed steady, accounting for 15 per cent of trips in Switzerland, 18 per cent in Denmark and 27 per cent in Holland.
Sir George, speaking at a conference in London to mark the launch of the strategy, said: "In congested areas, cyclists are completing their journeys more quickly than by car." He said employers should act with local authorities and community groups to boost cycling and that cash allocations to transport schemes would favour councils with cycle-friendly projects.
All DoT funded road schemes will now have to consider the needs of cyclists but new funds are not yet available.
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