Key BA advocacy targets addressed in Government’s cycling and walking plan

July 28, 2020

The Bicycle Association warmly welcomes today’s very significant Government announcement on cycling. We are especially pleased to note that it includes several measures consistently called for by the BA as part of our advocacy work on behalf of the industry, notably:

An e-bike support programme

A major focus of the BA’s advocacy efforts has been to make Government aware of the huge economic and transport importance of e-bikes. We backed our advocacy with commissioned research and detailed policy proposals for an e-bike incentive scheme. The Government plan recognises the transformative potential of e-bikes, and we look forward to working closely with officials as they move to implementation of the plan’s proposals:

We will establish a national electrically-assisted bike support programme

Electrically-assisted bikes, or e-bikes, help you pedal using a small motor, powered by a battery which can be charged from a normal household socket. No licence, equipment or insurance is needed to ride one.

They are particularly useful for people who, for example, need to ride in business clothes without breaking sweat, or to ride up hills, or to travel long distances, who are older or less fit, or who are otherwise put off by the physical effort of an ordinary bike. As such, they could be hugely important in our goal of bringing non- traditional groups to cycling including older and disabled people.

We will establish a national e-bike support programme, which could include loans, subsidies, or other financial incentives, using the learning from other schemes in the UK and abroad for e-bikes, adapted e-bikes and other e-vehicles.

Page 39, Cycling and Walking plan for England

Cargo bike funding

In our recent press release and in our contacts with Government over some time the BA has been calling for follow-on funding for cargo e-bikes, and city-scale cycle logistics trials. We are happy to note that both are included, and the BA stands ready to support the implementation of these initiatives (as we did with the previous e-cargo bike grants scheme, which closed earlier this year). The plan states:

We will promote cycling for the carriage of freight, and work to reduce unnecessary motorised freight and servicing traffic

We will extend the e-cargo bike grant programme as part of Government’s wider programme to decarbonise deliveries set out in the Last Mile Review and Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

In one or two small historic city centres with narrow and crowded streets, we will pilot compulsory freight consolidation schemes… [so that goods are] taken to their final destinations in a far smaller number of vehicles, including cargo bikes and electric vans wherever possible.

Pages 26-27, Cycling and Walking plan for England

Cycle parking and theft reduction

Among the BA’s members are several suppliers of high quality cycle parking equipment, and we have stressed the importance of good cycle parking to Government. This is also recognised in the document:

Cycle parking must be included in substantial schemes, particularly in city centres, trip generators and (securely) in areas with flats where people cannot store their bikes at home. Parking should be provided in sufficient amounts at the places where people actually want to go.

Page 44

The BA has been working to co-ordinate the development of a new cycle parking hardware quality and installation standard. So we are happy to see this aspect has also been recognised:

We will continue to work with key stakeholders to develop new standards for sufficient secure bike storage in all new residential and non-residential developments.

Page 25

The BA has been working with key stakeholders including police for some time on several fronts to help reduce cycle theft, and its impact on cycling take-up. We’ve been exploring options for industry to support cycle registration. The document also addresses this area:

We will do more to combat bike theft

Cycle theft has declined in recent years, but more than 300,000 cycles are still stolen each year – about three times the number of cars taken. Many who lose their bikes in this way never return to cycling.

We will consolidate existing ownership registers allowing police to trace the owners of stolen bikes. We will explore mandating retailers to number all bikes they sell on the new database, and to offer customers the opportunity to register at the point of sale.

Page 36

The “Fix Your Bike” voucher scheme

The BA proposed a £50 voucher repair scheme to Government in early May, as it became clear that cycles were essential for socially-distanced transport. After rapid implementation, supported by the BA, the scheme now has over 1000 registered repairers and opens tonight:

The Fix your Bike Voucher Scheme allows members of the public to receive a voucher worth up to £50 towards the cost of repairing a bicycle.

Registrations for members of the public who want to apply for a voucher open at 11:45pm on 28 July 2020 on the Energy Saving Trust website.

Cycle training further extended

The BA was pleased that in February the Government announced plans to extend the availability of Bikeability cycle training to every child in England. This was a long-term industry priority and the announcement of extension to every child followed a one-to-one meeting between the BA and Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP. Cycle training remains a high priority and we are pleased to read:

We will ensure that every adult and child who wants it can be trained how to ride a cycle safely

If you are learning to cycle, including on a range of inclusive cycles for disabled people, or have not cycled for a while, cycle training by an experienced instructor is a useful way to gain confidence and riding skills. We will offer cycle training to everyone who wants to undertake it, whether free or at a nominal charge.

Page 36

Other highlights

The BA warmly welcomes many other aspects of the Plan, including:

  1. The commitment to long-term funding, including for improving the National Cycle Network and for “thousands of miles” of new protected cycle routes.
  2. The publication of new cycle infrastructure design standards and forming a powerful new ‘inspectorate’, Active Travel England, to make sure they are met and to bring cycling to the heart of the planning process.
  3. The opening of a consultation on the Highway Code, and commitment to “improving legal protections for vulnerable road users”.
  4. Consulting on a “community right” to close side-streets to through traffic, plus enabling “school streets” and creating up to 12 new “Mini Hollands” and one “zero-emission city”.
  5. Trialling enabling GPs to “prescribe cycling”

We believe this programme is a real step-change in ambition and potential for cycling in the UK.

Steve Garidis, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association, said:

“The unprecedented surge in interest in cycling over the last four months shows the important role cycling continues to play in helping overcome the impacts of Covid-19, and the important role cycling and the cycling industry can play to create a greener, healthier Britain as part of the recovery. 

The announcement today is a most welcome step change in ambition and investment.  We particularly welcome the national ebike programme and the recognition of the potential electric bicycles offer to open cycling up to practically everyone.  With the right support measures ebikes could become the most viable electric vehicles for short trips, but there are cost barriers for many consumers which have limited their uptake in the UK. 

Meanwhile the industry is well qualified to help bring Britain’s existing pedal cycle fleet up to scratch, with over 1000 bike shops signed up to help deliver the bike service voucher scheme.”

Links to full documents