What a fantastic announcement from the Government this week. Transport Minister, Norman Baker, has confirmed that a further £20 million will be allocated on supporting cycling in the UK.

The money is to fund cycle safety and cycling facilities throughout the UK, including improvements to safety at junctions.

The announcement was made by Mr Baker alongside the cycling organisations, British Cycling and the CTC. There were also hints that there would be further announcements in the new year.

In our Travel to Work Report last year, we identified that there are almost 700,000 cyclists who commute to work on a bicycle. For these, and the thousands who cycle on UK roads, the opportunity to improve road conditions is very welcomed, and perhaps overdue.

At Bikes.org.uk, we welcome this with open arms but we also ask David Cameron, Norman Bake and other Government Ministers to recognise the long term benefits of getting British people cycling. This is a great pastime but it can also help Government by improving fitness levels, thus reducing the number of people visiting their Doctor, lower Hospital intakes and overall, a healthier nation.

If we can improve road conditions, we may even break the 1 million barrier of people who use cycling as their primary means of commuting. In turn, this reduces carbon emissions, which makes for a healthier environment.

Given the reaction to the Summer of Sport, the superb victory in this year’s Tour de France and of course the magnificent Olympic success, now is the time for the Government to act. It’s time to put cycling at the heart of the Transport policy so the UK can rival other forward thinking countries, like Denmark and the Netherlands.

It was encouraging to hear Mr Baker saying; “Cycling is great for your health, the economy, and for the environment so we are determined to make it easier for people to cycle whether for leisure, getting to the shops or as part of their commute to work.” – Mr Baker, can we now build on this and deliver a nation of cyclists?

An important element of this announcement is that part of the money is being provided by the Dept of Health. Public Health Minister Anna Soubry, added; “Being active helps us stay healthy and protects against life threatening conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.”

According to Baker, the funding will increase the total available for;

  • The Community Linking Places Fund (in addition to the £15m announced on 7 February 2012)
  • Improving cycle safety at junctions (in addition to the £15m announced on 26 June 2012)

The Community Linking Places Fund is primarily for improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure, facilities and links. This includes improving access to the rail network by bicycle. In addition the fund aims to support jobs, enhance access to employment and encourage greater use of more environmentally friendly transport.

The investment in junctions – for use by English local authorities outside London – will help to tackle accident hotspots where cyclists have been killed or seriously injured, or are deemed to be at greater risk. Local authorities are currently submitting bids for funding.

Demand from local authorities, Sustrans and train operating companies, who are delivering the infrastructure, has been high. An increase of £20m to the total funding available will allow the Government to support more high quality proposals. Details of the projects to be supported under the additional funding will be published early next year.

Well done Norman Baker. Well done Anna Soubry.