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Blog: What would make our towns better for cyclists?
As cycling become ever more popular and petrol becomes ever more expensive, more and more people are choosing to go to work by bike.
But despite the growing popularity of the sport, Britain still isn’t the cycling paradise it should be. The roads are potholed, cycle lanes are often more dangerous than the roads and many drivers aren’t afraid to show that they don’t appreciate our presence.
Britain’s success in competitive cycling in 2012 has led to a huge increase in people who have been inspired to ride their bikes, both for transport and for pleasure.
I’ve been riding bikes seriously since 1995, and I’ve never known it so popular – it’s nice to be fashionable for once. When first I took up mountain biking it was thought of as a weird minority sport.
Now, there’s a trail centre springing up in every forest and a huge number of people have at least had a go – many becoming hooked and spending a fortune on complicated bikes and fancy clothing.
And in the last couple of years, largely due to the impressive feats of Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins, road cycling has taken off too. Even on the grimmest days of the Lancashire winter I’ve seen dozens of riders out braving the cold and wet this year.
This huge rise in the public awareness of cycling has created a new breed of cycle commuter too. Thousands of people all over the country have seen the advantages of riding a bike for transport as well as pleasure.
The benefits are obvious – commuting by bike keeps you fit, helps beat stress, dodges traffic jams, saves money, reduces road congestion and is better for the environment.
There are downsides of course. You might arrive a work a bit sweaty. There might be nowhere safe to lock your bike. Many workplaces don’t offer decent changing facilities. And many drivers get very annoyed if a cyclist delays their arrival at the next traffic jam.
Fortunately, those in high office have realised that more can be done to make cycle commuting more attractive and safer for Britain’s bike riders.
The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group has launched an inquiry called Get Britain Cycling, aimed at finding out what’s stopping even more people from getting on their bikes.
As the group points out, only two per cent of journeys in Britain are made by bike, compared to 27 per cent in the Netherlands.
Are you a cyclist? What would inspire you to ride more, to commute, and make you feel safer on our roads?
Are you an aspiring cyclist? What barriers currently exist to stop you getting out on two wheels?
With its beautiful scenery, challenging hills and miles of quiet roads and bridleways, the North West is one of the country’s best cycling destinations. What could make it even better?