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Nick Crane calls for ambition on rural cycling

26 February 2013

Nick Crane calls for ambition on rural cycling Photo: © Alamy

As MPs hold an inquiry to ‘Get Britain Cycling’, broadcaster Nicholas Crane says rural England is at risk of being left behind.

Nick Crane, vice-president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), says:

‘My professional life as an author of travel books began with an OS map and school bike. From the age of ten, my parents were happy to let me go off alone and explore the countryside by bicycle. Yet in rural areas nowadays, many B roads are not safe for bicycles, while riding on A roads can mean dicing with death.

‘While we are good at building new dual carriageways, when it comes to cycle paths we are twenty years behind countries like Germany and the Netherlands. It’s time we changed gear and set out a bright new future for rural cycling.’

Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner for CPRE, who will be giving evidence to the inquiry on Wednesday 27 February, agrees and says:

‘Why can’t we show the same ambition to roll out rural cycling as we have to roll out rural broadband? Countries like Ireland and Germany have set out visions to make cycling easy in town and country. But in England, cycling is seen as an activity that is primarily for urban areas and national parks.’

CPRE is asking MPs to for lobby the Government for action in three key areas:

  • Share minor rural roads: national funding to roll out 40 mph zones and public education campaigns to encourage drivers to expect and respect other road users, such as those cycling, walking or riding;
  • Retrofit safe routes along busy roads: new bodies called Local Transport Boards have just been created and are due to set out investment priorities to Government by July 2013. Rural cycling, however, appears to have been left off their agendas.
  • Promote neighbourhood level action: encouraging bottom up measures in villages and communities such as electric bike pools, community speed watch, parish travel plans and promotional events.

Ralph concludes:

‘Cycling will never be an answer for all travel in rural areas. But it’s great for shorter journeys, such as to a village shop or school. And for longer journeys, it can fill the missing link, such as a way to get to a train station. All we need now is ambition and joined up action to put the pieces together.’

Find out more CPRE's written evidence to the inquiry

Ralph Smyth's Guardian blog

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