PM urges drivers to be ‘courteous’ towards cyclists

Boris Johnson has urged motorists to “be courteous” towards cyclists as he unveiled “the most ambitious package ever” to boost active travel.

The Prime Minister said drivers must understand they will be “sharing the roads” as measures costing £2 billion are taken to promote cycling and walking.

Bikes will be made available on the NHS and £50 vouchers towards repair costs will be launched on Tuesday night.

GPs in areas of England with poor health will be encouraged to prescribe cycling, and patients will be able to access bikes through their local surgery.

Some 50,000 Fix Your Bike vouchers will be available at from 11.45pm.

They can be used towards making a bike safe, such as having a standard service and replacing components.

But they will not cover upgrading roadworthy parts or purchasing removable accessories.

The vouchers were initially due to be available in June, but the Department for Transport (DfT) said last month they would only be launched once maintenance shops could handle the expected spike in demand.

Boris Johnson cycling
Boris Johnson has often been seen on his bike (Yui Mok/PA)

Thousands of miles of new protected cycle lanes, cycle training, making electric bikes more accessible and creating the UK’s first zero-emission transport city are also part of the plans to promote cycling and walking.

Other measures include strengthening the Highway Code, improving legal protections, increasing lorry safety standards and working with the police and retailers to tackle bike thefts.

On a visit to Nottingham, Mr Johnson said: “You always could spend more and this is the most ambitious package ever – it’s £2 billion.

“What we will do is create thousands of miles of protected cycle lanes – I really believe that protected cycle lanes are essential to give people the confidence people need, many people aren’t very brave or confident cyclists.”

He added: “What I also want to see is more work done to get motorists to understand that we are all going to be sharing the roads, going to be sharing it with cyclists, so be respectful, be courteous.

Cycling and walking have a huge role in tackling some of the health and environmental challenges that we face.

Our £2bn cycling strategy will encourage more cycling with thousands of miles of new bike lanes, and training for those who want to learn.

— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) July 28, 2020

“Things have been improving but there’s still a long way to go.”

The £2 billion investment was announced in February.

Labour’s shadow cycling minister Kerry McCarthy said: “Tory ministers have dragged their feet and failed to seize the opportunity this crisis has posed.

“Although funding is welcome, cyclists will be rightly concerned about how long it is going to take to actually put these plans into practice.”

DfT figures show there has been a surge in cycling following the coronavirus outbreak.

Compared with the equivalent day in the first week of March, cycling usage nearly doubled over the weekend of July 18/19.

Monday July 20 – the most recent weekday for which data is available – saw cycling at 146% of pre-lockdown levels.

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