British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling Network is calling on George Osborne to invest in cycling to create a healthier workforce and so boost productivity. #ChooseCycling comprises a number of major British businesses including GlaxoSmithKline, The AA, Sky, Virgin Trains and the National Grid.
Last week it was reported that cycling is likely to lose out to road building and rail upgrade projects when five-year budgets for government departments are set out next month. However, a letter signed by representatives from the #ChooseCycling network is asking George Osborne to deliver the Prime Minister’s promise of a ‘cycling revolution’.
In an open letter, the network makes a series of requests, “because we believe that a modest investment from government now will create jobs in the short term and deliver huge long-term benefits for society.”
The three main requests are:
It has been suggested that it could take more than 18 months for the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to be drawn up, which would leave the eight cities receiving Cycle City Ambition funding, plus London, as the only places guaranteed cycling investment.
New five-year budgets for government departments are to be announced on November 25, but ministers are said to be under pressure to protect a £15.2bn programme to upgrade a hundred A roads and motorways as well as Network Rail’s £38.5bn upgrade plan, with cycling therefore likely to feel the squeeze.
In the letter, the #ChooseCycling Network argues that cycling can help deliver what businesses need.
“Physical inactivity is hurting us all. It costs the country as much as £47 billion a year, while businesses face falling productivity as absences rise. We think it matters that one in five schoolchildren are obese while one in four think playing computers games counts as exercise.
“We have come together with British Cycling to form the #ChooseCycling Network. We have done this because we think that cycling can help deliver what businesses need. More cycling will make our towns and cities more pleasant, more liveable, less congested, less polluted, healthier, happier and more prosperous. This is only possible if more people are able to travel more easily by bicycle.
“We want to ask everyone to work together – businesses, the public and the government – to make this happen.”
Chris Boardman told British Cycling that it was no coincidence that some of the biggest businesses in the country were members of the #ChooseCycling Network. “The appalling level of physical inactivity in this country is hurting us all; businesses face falling productivity as absences rise.”
Boardman added that he had been disappointed that no-one from the Treasury had taken British Cycling up on an offer to accompany him to Copenhagen.
"Examples of sustained investment in cycling infrastructure paying rich dividends can be seen across Europe, and we recently invited members of the government to come with us to view one of the finest infrastructure models – Copenhagen.
"It was encouraging that Robert Goodwill, the Minister for Cycling, took us up on this, but extremely disappointing that the Treasury declined to even respond to our invitation.
"It is vital that those people making important decisions on our behalf are fully aware of what can be achieved – we can only hope that the Treasury choose to listen to the demand for crucial investment in cycling before it’s too late for this and future generations."