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Fuelling the cycling revolution in Bradford
Britain is experiencing a biking boom.
Soaring fuel prices, higher fares and traffic congestion are some of the reasons why Britons are resorting to pedal power.
According to a new study by the cycling charity, Sustrans, millions of extra bike journeys were made last year on the UK’s National Cycle Network.
Almost 500 million journeys were made by bike or on foot, with a third of cyclists saying they had swapped four wheels for two.
Around 40 million more cycling trips were made during 2011 than the year before, an 18 per cent increase, taking the total to 256 million.
An estimated 3.3 million people used the national network during 2011, an increase of 300,000 on the previous year.
Bradford is already equipped for the biking boom. Three years ago the Aire Valley Bike Bus launched, encouraging commuters to leave their car at home and cycle to work. The city plays host to the popular Sky Ride in July – a circular route from City Park to Lister Park on July 1 – and regularly hosts Bike Breakfasts for cyclists to enjoy free food. The next is at 7.30am on Wednesday, July 4, in City Park.
In addition, Bradford also operates a Cycling Strategy, endorsed by Bradford Council, to support ongoing investment in cycling in the city.
Ginny Leonard, North East development officer for the cycling charity CTC, who organised the recent Cycle Fest in Saltaire encouraging families to get involved in cycling activities, says she has seen a ‘massive’ take-up in cycling, largely to do with Britons boycotting their cars due to escalating fuel costs. “A lot of it is to do with more journeys to work and to the supermarket and the cost of the price of petrol – that is having a massive increase,” explains Ginny.
Launched this month, Go: Cycling is another project Ginny is busy delivering around West Yorkshire. The project offers free cycle training and maintenance to adults giving them the confidence to get on their bikes.
Businesses are also being encouraged to get involved by joining the Cycle To Work Scheme. Ginny says they have already seen an 11 per cent increase in take-up of the scheme, which involves companies buying bikes and workers making savings while paying them back through a salary sacrifice scheme.
Fitness is another prompt for the increasing popularity of cycling, and frustration. Ginny says cycling to work is less stressful than being stuck in traffic congestion.
“It is a mode of transport we should be looking to utilise more,” she says.
Francine Hoddy runs Bradford-based Safe 2 Cycle helping people who are returning to cycling or trying it for the first time to brush up their skills and build confidence.
She says: “There are a lot more people coming into cycling, especially women. Before I started cycling 17 years ago, women cyclists were a bit of a novelty.
“A lot of it is for family fun and fitness – some cycle to work and save money and for general leisure pursuits.”
Cycling is also good for your health. “It is a general feeling of well-being – it improves cardio-vascular fitness, lowers cholesterol and it’s outdoors.
“It’s that feeling of independence and freedom and it’s fun,” says Francine.
The University of Bradford is also backing cycling in Bradford through a range of initiatives, including implementing secure bike parking and selling bikes through a bike scheme.
Sustrans chief executive, Malcolm Shepherd, is calling on the Government to ‘properly fund cycling and walking’.
“These are the answers to our rising petrol prices and expanding waistlines, but we need safe routes to feel comfortable travelling by bike and foot.
“People across the country are crying out for routes where they can get off roads and make safe, healthy, cheap and green journeys.”
Norman Baker, Local Transport Minister, says: “Cycling and walking is good for the environment, good for your health and, of course, good for the economy.
“Despite the challenging economic climate, we are spending more on sustainable transport in this four-year spending review period than the last one, including the £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund.”
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For more about Bradford’s cycling strategy, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.