Cycling 'Revolution' Shifts Into Top Gear
A big cash injection and a nationwide drive to promote cycling in cities and national parks has been announced by the Prime Minister.
The initiative includes plans to make roads safer for those on two wheels and means a number of English cities will get Government money for cycling schemes.
A total of £77m will be divided between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich.
The New Forest, Peak District, South Downs and Dartmoor areas will also each share another £17m funding for national parks.
With local contributions, the total new funding for cycling is £148m between now and 2015.
The announcement includes a commitment to cut red tape that can stifle cycle-friendly road design and to encourage changes to the way roads are built or altered.
Councils will be expected to up their game to deliver infrastructure that takes cycling into account from the design stage.
Mr Cameron said: "Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high - now we want to see cycling soar.
"Our athletes have shown they are among the best in the world and we want to build on that, taking our cycling success beyond the arena and onto the roads, starting a cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists."
He went on: "This Government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle as well as encouraging far more people to take it up and business, local government, developers, road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in helping to achieve this."
New trunk road schemes, such as junction improvements or road-widening, will be 'cycle-proofed' so they can be navigated confidently by the average cyclist.
Significant junction upgrades will help cyclists at 14 locations on the trunk road network where major roads can prove an obstacle for journeys by bike.
A total of £5m will be invested in upgrades this year and a further £15m will be invested in 2015/16, with plans in place for many more similar schemes.
The boost is intended to put Britain on a level-footing with countries like Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "We have seen a significant growth in the number of cyclists in London over the last few years. But cycling shouldn't be confined to the capital.
"Today's announcement shows we are absolutely committed to boosting cycling in cities and the countryside across the whole of England."
However, shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "No amount of cynical spin from David Cameron will make up for the fact that, immediately on taking office, he axed Cycle England, the Cycle Demonstration Towns scheme and the annual £60m budget to support cycling that he inherited.
"Since then he has axed targets to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads, reduced traffic enforcement, cut the THINK! awareness campaign and allowed longer HGVs."
But Professor David Cox, chairman of national cycling charity CTC, said: "David Cameron has today shown the leadership that CTC and other cycling groups have long called for.
"We now urge MPs of all parties to speak up for cycling in Parliament in September, calling for the funding needed to transform Britain's streets into a continental-style 'Cycletopia'.
"With growing political support for cycling, this really might now be possible."
A feasibility study to look into creating a new national cycleway was also announced as part of the scheme.
The route would broadly follow the route of the HS2 rail line from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.
It would link communities and rail stations to work, schools and shops as well as countryside and tourist attractions along the way.
In addition, a new national School Awards Scheme will be created to recognise schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting cycling and walking.
The UK cycle industry, led by the Bicycle Association, has volunteered to work with the Government to sponsor this award.
It was also announced that the Government is extending its commitment to support Bikeability cycle training into 2015/16.
All of the cities receiving funding have either already implemented, or are looking to expand, the network of 20mph zones, with Norfolk and Cambridge looking to introduce extensive area-wide 20mph schemes.
Similar work has been done to make it easier to introduce 40mph limits in rural areas.
The announcement comes as workers on London's bicycle hire scheme, dubbed Boris Bikes, stage a 48-hour strike over pay and conditions.