Cycling to school gets £15m boost

The government is set to spend £15 million extra in an effort to get children out of cars and on their bikes.

The money is set to flow to the Cycling England initiative over the next three years, transport secretary Douglas Alexander said today, taking its total budget to £30 million.

Extra cash will go on cycling proficiency lessons for 100,000 children in the UK, as well as on cycle lanes linked to schools.

But while the initiative has been welcomed, opposition parties have questioned the government’s effectiveness so far in encouraging more people to cycle to work and school.

The new measures were announced in a speech given by Mr Alexander to a transport and climate change conference in Oxford today.

He outlined his desire to end what the Department of Transport terms “the back of the car generation”.

“If we can get them [children] into cycling early with a strong focus on safety, there are real potential benefits,” he said.

“Seemingly small choices like this can have big impacts – for the health of children, on congestion and the environment.”

The move was welcomed by cycling groups.

Phillip Darnton, chairman of Cycling England, said: “The investment is welcome … the government’s strategic commitment to cycling represents a tremendous opportunity.

“It will underpin Cycling England’s determination to ensure that in the long term every child has the opportunity to learn and enjoy safe cycling before they leave primary school.”

But the Conservative party has said that despite laudable goals, the government’s record at getting people on their bikes is less than impressive.

“Supporting cycling is important, so this is a move in the right direction,” said shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling.

“But the government is very fond of announcements: sadly many of these don’t deliver results.”

He added: “In the government’s ten-year plan for transport, a strong commitment was made to treble the number of cycling trips, yet since then bicycle use has fallen.”