Manchester bike brand Insync Bikes has welcomed new laws set to improve road safety for cyclists from Monday (June 22) – but is urging councils to seize the opportunity to provide safer routes to stop cyclists going back to their cars.
The Government’s cycling minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, announced new powers for local authorities to ensure safer journeys for those on two wheels during Bike Week last week.
Insync, part of Indian-owned Hero Cycles, has welcomed the measures which form a key part of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s vision, expressed in parliament in May, to create a ‘golden age’ of cycling (see notes to editors 1).
But Insync is urging local authorities to ‘act now’ and invest Government funding for cycling before momentum is lost. Fears were expressed this week that delays in introducing cycling measures, including pop-up cycle lanes, could see commuters returning to their cars (see notes to editors 2). A survey by British Cycling of 2,000 adults found that 19 per cent of commuters were more likely to cycle to work as lockdown eased, however, 26 per cent said they were more likely to drive to avoid public transport, with safety believed to be a cause for concern.
The new safety powers include giving local authorities in England the ability to use CCTV to issue penalty charge notices to drivers who park or load illegally in cycle lanes, putting cyclists at risk of a serious accident when they are forced to ride out into the flow of traffic.
Insync Bikes sales director Wayne Clarke said: “We applaud the Government’s moves to make the roads safer. The measures to deter motorists from illegally blocking cycle lanes will make journeys much less hazardous. Insync has seen an increased demand for affordable bikes from families and we want to see our customers given maximum protection as many consider commuting by bike for the first time. While we know these measures can take time to put in place, we hope councils can resolve these challenges for the good of public safety and use the funding to unleash the power of cycling.
“Through-out lockdown Insync has championed cycling as a force for good particularly in the fight against COVID 19 improving fitness and immunity as well as sensitivity to vaccines and better mental health. When you consider all these benefits combined with the massive positive environmental impact of cycling, industry and Government must do all we can to make cycling a genuinely safe and affordable alternative form of transport.”
The new powers for local authorities follow an announcement in May by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps of a £2bn package for cycling and walking to help create a greener transport network. This included £225m for local authorities in England to create pop-up cycle lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and bike and bus-only corridors.
Pankaj M Munjal, HMC chairman and managing director, welcomed the measures, saying he believed it would create huge opportunities for Hero in the UK and India.
He said: “India can support the UK with a cost-effective and high-quality manufacturing base for ebikes. The Hero Global Design Centre in Manchester helps us understand and design products specifically for UK customers.”
Cyclists are also set to benefit from a bicycle repair scheme with up to half a million £50 vouchers issued to people in England to get their neglected bikes back on the road.
Announcing the new powers during Bike Week, cycling minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “This measure will help get more cyclists on the road and alleviate pressure on public transport infrastructure, giving people the confidence to use their bike for more journeys – perhaps for the first time.”
Temporary measures have already been introduced in areas including Newcastle, Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds, Leicester, Ipswich and Southampton as well as in Glasgow and Edinburgh. In London, new cycle lanes have appeared, including on Park Lane, but there is a problem of different boroughs varying their approaches, according to Ruth Cadbury, the Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, who co-chairs the all-party parliamentary cycling group.
Insync is backing a package of measures presented to the government by the Bicycle Association. In addition to the measures mentioned above, these include:
- A zero VAT ‘holiday’ for all bikes, e-bikes, and cycle repairs.
- A short-term £250 per bike purchase grant to promote e-bikes.
- Extending the Cycle to Work scheme.
- Adult refresher cycle training across the country.
- Funding and planning easements to help employers provide secure cycle parking for their workers.
Notes to editors
- Prime minister Boris Johnson predicted cycling was set to experience a ‘golden age’ as the country comes out of lockdown. People of all ages have been using pedal power to commute and to stay in shape, as one of the government’s permitted daily activities during the lockdown.
- Pop up cycle lane delays: In a letter to local authorities in May, the Government warned that money could be demanded back if work was not started within four weeks of receiving funds and completed within another eight weeks. Manchester is one city finding teething trouble with the plans. The Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, says Manchester City Council is now working with other districts to join up proposed cycle routes after the council’s apparent reluctance to invest in pop-up infrastructure had seemed set to leave a five-mile hole at the very centre of the region’s infrastructure.