Need your bicycle repaired? UK Government will give you £50 to get it sorted.
Lockdown has led to a 200 per cent surge in cycling in the UK, according to transport secretary Grant Shapps. He said, the government will make half a million bike maintenance vouchers, worth £50 each, available by the end of June to encourage more people to get on their bikes.
In early May, France announced it would pump €20m into wooing citizens to get on their bikes to keep pollution levels down after lockdown. Under this scheme everyone is eligible for bike repairs of up to €50 at registered mechanics.
Grant Shapps said: “Despite fewer people travelling over the last few weeks during this crisis, we’ve actually seen around 100 per cent increase in weekday cycling and at weekends that increase has been up to 200 per cent. We want to use this recovery to permanently change the way we travel.”
The announcement comes as towns and cities across the UK widen pavements and expand cycle lanes to encourage walking and cycling which , in these tricky times, are safer alternatives to public transport.
No one is expecting that we are going to be like the Dutch or the Danes overnight. At the moment, both statistically and culturally, we are light years behind our European neighbours. In the Netherlands a whopping 26 percent of all journeys are made by bike. In Denmark the figure is close to 20 percent. In Britain, pre-lockdown anyway, fewer than two percent of journeys were made by bike, accounting for just over one percent of total distance travelled.
The reality is more than a third of trips in the UK are under two miles, and more than 60 percent less than five miles. There is plenty of scope, particularly in urban areas, for more one-person trips to be made by bike or on foot.
“I genuinely think we’re at a crossroads and I don’t know which way we’ll go.” The words belong to Chris Boardman, the 1992 Olympic champion, who now acts as a policy advisor for British Cycling as well as being Greater Manchester's first ever Cycling and Walking Commissioner.
Boardman points to cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen which have similar climates to the UK but where cycling is a way of life, wrapped up in the national identity.
The trouble, he says, is that most people were not prepared to listen before. Now they are. “It’s been remarkable to watch actually,” Boardman says. “We changed a global culture in a couple of weeks when there was motivation to do so [in beating Covid-19]. Everyone has temporarily joined the same club.”