Azara Blog: Bristol is given money to promote cycling

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Date published: 2008/06/19

The BBC says:

Bristol has become England's first "cycling city" in a £100m government scheme aimed at encouraging cycling.

The city intends to double the number of cyclists over the next three years with a series of innovations.

Sharing the funding will be York, Stoke, Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton Buzzard, Southend, Shrewsbury, Southport and Woking.

Among the features in Bristol will be the UK's first major bicycle rental network, modelled on a scheme in Paris.

The government is giving Bristol £11.4m to transform cycling by creating dedicated cycle lanes, better facilities and more training for children.

The local area will match this funding to bring the total investment package to about £23m.
The Public Health Minister and Bristol South MP Dawn Primarolo said the scheme would help tackle growing levels of obesity in the UK.

"For most people, a great way to keep healthy is by building physical activity into everyday life, such as cycling to work or school," she said.

Cycling should certainly receive some money from the taxpayer. Whether this is a fair amount is another question. Needless to say, this scheme has nothing to do with the desire to "tackle growing levels of obesity in the UK". (And one wonders whether Primarolo has ever herself been on a bicycle except as a PR exercise.) It is all about trying to convince the workers to get out of their cars and instead cycle to work. Unfortunately this will be more about stick (making traffic congestion worse to cater for cyclists, buses and pedestrians, and just general nastiness towards drivers) than it will be about carrot. And as with most government schemes, a lot of this money will be completely wasted. For example, it seems that cycles will be provided "free of charge to deprived communities". No doubt some enterprising sort will set up a business to people in these "deprived" commnunities to sell on their free bike for a tenner so they can then be sold on again for double that price or more. And everybody it seems will be entitled to a "Develop a Personalised Travel Plan", a complete and utter waste of money. Fundamentally, the academic middle class people who run Britain utterly fail to realise or accept that most people do not want to cycle to get to work (or shop).

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