Cyclists will take priority over cars after lockdown, transport secretary says

£25m bike repair scheme has still not issued a single voucher

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 24 June 2020 15:06 BST
Cyclists will take priority over cars after lockdown, Shapps says

Bike use in England doubled during the week and trebled at weekends at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, the transport secretary has said.

Grant Shapps told MPs on the Transport Select Committee: “We saw an extraordinary 100 per cent increase in the number of people cycling during the week at the height of the lockdown and a 200 per cent increase at weekend.

The transport secretary vowed that cyclists will be given priority over drivers as lockdown eases.

“We want to make sure we are reprioritising how local authorities think about road space,” he said.

Greater Manchester wants to create 150 miles of protected cycle track, while Transport for London is planning a “bike Tube” network running above Underground lines.

Mr Shapps said: “What makes people cycle: it’s easy to grab the bike, and there’s space to cycle.

“The trick is to keep this going, and not just make it a ‘remember the lockdown, remember when everyone cycled?’.

“That requires more than just the extraordinarily large sums of money that we’re putting into cycling. It also requires a change in culture.”

But the transport secretary’s plan to bring half a million unused bikes back into service, with a £50 towards repairs and overhaul, has yet to issue a single voucher.

In response to a question from the Labour MP, Ruth Cadbury, Mr Shapps that the first would be issued by the end of June. He said that was in line with the original timetable.

But, he conceded: “We have a problem. There is a massive waiting list for everything to do with bikes.”

Only a few of the £25m-worth of vouchers will be available online initially, “to prevent the bike repair network being completely overwhelmed“.

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