Cycling England has just announced the shortlist of 19 towns that will contend for a share of £47 million which will be awarded to 10 new Cycling Demonstration Towns and one City in June.
The 19 have been selected from the original 74 applicants. Judgement criteria included looking for an existing commitment to cycling, quality staff in the area of cycling and good links to enthusiastic partners. The winners will need to identify match funding, and they will also have to demonstrate that their town has enough potential to overcome existing barriers to cycling and has a clear strategy on achieving this.
Some of those shortlisted for what will be the prestigious "first UK Cycling Demonstration City" tag have already given a taster of what cyclists can expect if they won some of the cash (the first three listed are those in contention for Cycling City status):
Nine objectives to be completed by 2011:
Many cycling commentators have pointed out it is more than a little ironic Bristol have been shortlisted after only recently putting forward a scheme that would have put a bus lane over part of the Bristol-Bath cycle path, one of the country's most popular cycling routes.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council also pointed out further points in Preston's favour: "the city has a flat topography with most places being within 3 miles of the city centre. It is home to UCLAN, one of the country's largest universities and there is strong support for cycling initiatives within the university and the city. British Cycling have recently appointed a Go Ride officer to cover the city and lottery funding has been received for a cycling for health scheme."
The full list of shortlisted applicants is: Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Coventry City, Greater Bristol, Leicester Leighton Linslade, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Shrewsbury, Southampton, Southend, Southport & Ainsdale, Stoke-on-Trent, Weston-super-Mare, Woking, York