BikeRadar’s take | A welcome initiative but where’s the infrastructure?
Anything that gets more butts on bikes is readily welcomed by all of us at BikeRadar.
To an experienced rider, the pure joy, health benefits of cycling and mental release that getting on a bike brings will seem obvious.
The government is targeting 35 million people with its latest initiative and encouraging them to discover these benefits for themselves can only be a good thing.
With all of that said, telling people that riding a bike is good for them is only a very small part of actually encouraging cycling as a regular and normalised behaviour.
According to Cycling UK, around 59 per cent of non-cyclists in Britain feel that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads, so any commitment must be followed by real investment.
Jenny Box, Cycling UK’s head of development, echoes this sentiment, saying that “Cycling UK has always known cycling can help people with both their physical and mental wellbeing.
“If the news reports are true, then Cycling UK would love to be able to bring the gift of cycling… through a ‘cycling prescription’.
“However, any such initiative also needs to provide these future riders with a safe place to cycle – and that means investment in cycling infrastructure too.”
There was a glimmer of hope back in May when £2bn of active travel funding was announced to “create a new era for cycling and walking”.
However, this money is due to be spread out over five years and is not, in fact, new money, having been previously announced back in February. May’s announcement did include £250m of fast-tracked cash to create emergency infrastructure in response to the coronavirus pandemic, however.
We’re yet to see any specifics about plans for ‘prescription cycling’ – it seems unlikely that the NHS will actually dish out bikes on prescription – but broadening the cycle to work scheme, interest-free loans for e-bikes and subsidising the purchase of new bikes are among the options we’d welcome to ensure everyone in society can take advantage.