Watch a report on the government initiative to get Britain cycling
A new government scheme to make Britain healthier will encourage people to walk and cycle more.
The Prime Minister says drastic action is needed to fight obesity and will spent two billion pounds on providing cycle training and releasing fifty pound bike repair vouchers. He will also give the NHS the power to prescribe access to bikes.
Thousands of miles of new protected bike lanes are also planned.
The extra investment announced today is not all new money, but a renewed focus on getting us onto our bikes following on from the government's Cycle to Work incentive that was introduced in May. This plan aims to build on the significant increase in cycling the UK has seen since then as people strive to avoid public transport during the pandemic. Cycling shops in the region are unsurprisingly delighted with the news. Rutland Cycling, who have five stores across Cambridge, say they have already seen a 30 to 40 per cent increase in demand because of the cycle to work initiative.
They say their shop is emptier than usual because so many bikes have been sold.
Some GPs do already prescribe cycling, including David Smart in Northampton, who says it's a great way of improving both physical and mental health. One of the really crucial aspects of this new scheme is the promise to invest in better infrastructure, like cycle lanes. Seen as crucial in expanding the number of cyclists - Rutland Cycling say that anxieties about road safety are a deterrant to people who are less confident cyclists or newcomers, so if the roads become safer and less polluted this will make a real difference.In Cambridgeshire, plans are already in place to spend almost £3m on getting the county walking and cycling post-lockdown . Bosses there say that new cycle lanes in Peterborough, Cambridge and Ely will help encourage more to take to two wheels.They're also planning to remove on-street car parking to allow for more bikes and to add cycle parking at Park & Ride sites.
Just yesterday, ITV Anglia reported that Norfolk Council are consulting with the public on how best to encourage walking and cycling around a controversial new dual carriageway.
Hertfordshire too has said it will spend £1.2m on encouraging more cycling in the county and a recent study by Cambridge University found that those who cycle to work will live longer lives. The success of our Olympic cyclists like Laura Trott and Paralympian Jody Cundy along with the Tour de France coming to our region back in 2014 had already boosted the popularity of cycling in the Anglia region.