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Clegg backs pedal power with £214m investment

Words: Laura Edgar

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has unveiled a £214 million cycling investment package.

Launched at a cycling summit held in Bristol today, the investment aims to make it both safer and easier to cycle in the UK.

The package includes £114 million to secure funding to support the Cycling Ambition Cities Programme for the next three years (in Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Oxford). The development of local cycling networks will be accelerated with cyclist protection increased. The remaining £100 million is part of the Strategic Road Network, which aims to improve the conditions for cyclists and walkers travelling alongside and crossing Britain’s most important and busiest roads.

Clegg explained that his ambition is to bring cycling down from the Alps onto the British Streets, with the 2012 Olympics and the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire inspiring a revolution in cycling.

“I’m committed to helping our dream of becoming a cycling nation, similar to places like Denmark and The Netherlands, become a reality.

“The rewards could be massive. Billions of pounds in savings for the NHS, less pollution and congestion, and a happier and safer population. In government, we’re putting the money down: now we need the public and local authorities to jump on their bikes and get us to the finish line.”

The announcement follows research commissioned by British Cycling. It found that if the UK became a cycling nation like The Netherlands or Denmark, the NHS could save £17 billion in 20 years with a reduction in road death by 30 per cent. Mobility, it concluded, would be increased by 25 per cent in the UK’s poorest families.

Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman MBE, who attended the summit in Bristol, said that this investment is a great stepping stone to creating a safe environment and encouraging Brits to choose cycling as their mode of transport.

“The new funds are fantastic for the eight cycling cities – giving them more security to plan for the next three years - and I thoroughly welcome the announcement. If we want a cycling revolution, something I truly believe we can achieve, we have to invest in it - commit to it long term.

“To that end, the next step, building on today’s announcement, is to make investment like this one a permanent, embedded and an ongoing part of our transport strategy. If we do, then the benefits for our nation’s health, wealth and environment will be monumental.”