Government to form “Office for Active Travel” to get Britain cycling

In breaking news, Bikebiz, (the cycling industry’s main information website), has reported that the government is to create a new cross-departmental Government body, possibly called the Office for Active Travel (OAT). The OAT will have the aim of getting more people cycling and walking, and reducing Britain’s reliance on the motor car.

Office for Active Travel to have billion pound budget

Perhaps more importantly, Bikebiz reports the OAT will have an initial budget of £1 billion. This is likely to be spent on capital projects including pedestrian and cycle infrastructure projects.  The Office for Active Travel could be announced in June, during summer’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

OAT could be welcome news for family cycling

If the report is correct, the formation of the Office for Active Travel would signal a major shift in the governments attitude to cycling, and could be the start of making Britain’s roads safe for families to cycle.  Countries with high levels of children cycling, such as Holland and Denmark, have all had to invest in making their roads safe for all ages. It was interesting that the Prime Minster, David Cameron, said yesterday “With more backing from the Government I can see [cycling] quadrupling in the UK”

To increase the numbers of children and families cycling, especially to school, much needs to be done. It will certainly require more than investing in major junctions and city centres.  Roads within all communities will need lower speed limits. Safe cycle routes must be created to allow children to get to their schools, and also to all the places they go after school and in the holidays.  If this can be achieved, and is then coupled with free cycle training for all, parents may finally feel it’s safe for their children to cycle to school.

To achieve this nationwide will require a systematic change to the attitude of cycling within local and national government. Cycling, walking and active transport organisations last year called on “ministers, civil servants, local authorities and all involved to make a big shift now: invest heavily in walking and cycling, and recreate an environment where children can play in the street and adults lead an active life.”  They will now be looking to the Office for Active Travel to be the catalyst to realise that vision.

The full Bikebiz article can be found here

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