Bristol has been named as the UK's first 'cycling city' by the Department for Transport.
Over the next three years, it and 11 other 'cycling demonstration towns' will share in £100m worth of funding aimed at improving cycling infrastructure and promoting the benefits of cycling. Bristol is expected to receive around £23m, roughly half of which will be provided by the Government, the other half from the local area.
The other 11 towns are Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton/Linslade, Shrewsbury, Southend on Sea, Southport with Ainsdale, Stoke, Woking and York. There are in addition six more cycling demonstration towns: Aylesbury, Brighton, Darlington, Derby, Exeter and Lancaster, that have received £7m of the funding since 2005.
Bristol wants to double the number of people cycling over the next three years, by:
- Creating the UK's first on-street bike rental network, modelled on the successful Paris scheme
- Establishing a 're-cycling' scheme, providing free bikes to those in deprived communities
- Building a facility for cyclists in the city centre providing showers, bike parking and lockers so commuters can have a wash and brush up before work
- Creating a dedicated cycleway to link the suburbs with the city centre opening up new, safer options for commuters who currently rely on their cars
- More than doubling the number of children receiving cycling training
In announcing Bristol as the UK's first cycling city, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said, "A quarter of journeys made every day by car are less than two miles. Cycling is an alternative that could bring real health benefits to millions of adults and children, as well as helping them save money and beat congestion.
"The first step in persuading people to leave their cars at home is to offer them a real choice. Providing a step change in cycling facilities, dedicated cycle lanes, more training and information will have a big impact on how people choose to travel.
Phillip Darnton, Chairman of Cycling England, added, "We have learnt from our European neighbours, such as the Netherlands, that increased and sustained investment is the key to getting more people enjoying the benefits of cycling."
The investment into cycling in Bristol comes only a few months after controversial plans to build a bus lane on the popular Bath-Bristol bike path were shelved.