Minister on a mission to make a nation of cyclists

Jesse Norman with county councillor Liam Walker at Backhill Tunnel, Milton Park

Cycling minister Jesse Norman peddled into Oxfordshire last week to find out more about what needs to be done to encourage more people to take to two wheels.

The MP’s first port of call was Oxpens in Oxford to look over plans for a new ‘riverside’ cycle route, which aims to improve off-road pedestrian and cycle links between residential areas and Oxford city centre.

That was before heading off to Milton Park in south Oxfordshire to try out the recently completed Backhill Tunnel, a redeveloped formerly derelict tunnel which links Milton Park and the adjacent A4130 in west Didcot.

He also heard about the county council’s cycling design standards, a guide for developers, planners and engineers.

Mr Norman, who represents Hereford, used Friday’s visit to the county to set out government plans encouraging people to walk and cycle more as part of a push to leave cars behind for shorter journeys.

A total of £100,000 of seed funding has been awarded to three innovative cycling safety projects across the country which aim to tackle a range of issues, including reducing the cost of e-bike batteries through recycling used laptop batteries.

The pledge follows the recent £7million promise to improve cycle safety and a ‘call for evidence’, asking for views on everything from improved infrastructure to education for all road users.

Mr Norman said: “We need to become a nation of cyclists, and this government wants to make cycling the natural choice of transport for people of all ages and backgrounds.

“The call for evidence will support an open, comprehensive and thorough review across government to encourage active travel and improve safety for all road users.

“We are determined to make cycling safer and easier across the country, and we are continuing to invest.”

The announcement comes as an independent report, suggesting there is a ‘strong’ case for a new offence to be introduced to tackle dangerous cycling, was published by the Department for Transport.

If this were to be introduced, it would bring cycling in line with serious driving offences.

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