By Daniel Hunter
The Prime Minister has announced the biggest ever single injection of cash for cycling in the UK alongside plans to make roads safer for those on two wheels.
£77 million will be divided between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich, while the New Forest, Peak District, South Downs and Dartmoor will each share a slice of £17 million funding for national parks. With local contributions, the total new funding for cycling is £148 million between now and 2015.
The announcement includes a commitment from the government to cut red tape that can stifle cycle-friendly road design and to encourage changes to the way roads are built or altered. Councils will be expected to up their game to deliver infrastructure that takes cycling into account from the design stage.
"Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high - now we want to see cycling soar," Prime Minister David Cameron said.
"Our athletes have shown they are among the best in the world and we want to build on that, taking our cycling success beyond the arena and onto the roads, starting a cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists.
"This government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle as well as encouraging far more people to take it up and business, local government, developers, road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in helping to achieve this."
New trunk road schemes that have a significant impact on cyclists, such as junction improvements or road-widening, will be 'cycle-proofed' so they can be navigated confidently by the average cyclist.
Significant junction upgrades and other improvements will help cyclists at 14 locations on the trunk road network where major roads can prove an obstacle for journeys by bike. £5 million will be invested in upgrades this year and a further £15 million will be invested in 2015 to 2016, with plans in place for many more similar schemes.
This commitment to improved cycling facilities is intended to put Britain on a level-footing with countries known for higher levels of cycling like Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.
"We have seen a significant growth in the number of cyclists in London over the last few years. But cycling shouldn't be confined to the capital," Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said.
"Today's announcement shows we are absolutely committed to boosting cycling in cities and the countryside across the whole of England. I want to help open up cycling to more people and these measures to make cycling safer on our roads are an important part of that."
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