Council show of support for cycling

By on 25/09/2012 in Cllr McKay, News

Birmingham's streets will be graced with pedal-powered councillors on September 28 as elected members will be participating in a city centre ride in order to promote cycling and healthy lifestyles.

The cross-party show of support for sustainable transport comes as the City Council releases figures for trends in cycling for Birmingham.

These results show there has been an overall increase in cycling, with daily figures from automatic counters placed at key sites having registered an increase of 37 per cent over the period 2008-2011.

As the figures have steadily risen, they show, on average, a greater number of cyclists during the week than the weekend – suggesting cyclists are using their bikes as an environmentally-friendly way of commuting, rather than simply a leisure activity.

It has also emerged despite Birmingham's levels of cycling in schools (0.4 per cent) being lower than those across England (1 per cent), they have increased significantly in schools where cycling schemes and encouragement projects have been initiated.

These projects include Bike It, which has been implemented in 24 schools across Birmingham. It involves expert cycling officers in schools teaching children how to be fit, healthy and safe on their bikes.

City schools where the scheme was run in 2010/11 have recorded an average 216 per cent increase in pupils cycling regularly to school, compared to 81 per cent for all Bike It schools in England.

Cllr James McKay, Cabinet member for a Green, Safe and Smart city, said: “With the evident increase in the popularity of cycling, seen from these recent figures, I feel it is important for the council to show its support for sustainable methods of transport.

“As a keen cyclist myself I look forward to joining the peloton of council members – this ride sets a positive precedent as members of all political parties come together to support and improve cycling options for the city in what could been seen as the council's own version of the Tour de France.”

With the rise in overall bike usage, the number of cycle accidents in Birmingham has also increased - but the accidents have gone up at a much slower rate than the improved usage.

Over the period 2008-2011, there was an increase in all types accidents of 14.3 per cent (up from 231 to 264).

To tackle issues such as these and further encourage cycling, the council has developed the 2011-2015 Bike Birmingham Cycling Strategy, as a roadmap for the future.

Cllr McKay added: “We have made significant progress on improving options, facilities and safety for those wanting to cycle in the city, but we fully understand there is much still to be done.

“The facts and figures we have give us a baseline from which to work as we strive to deliver the improvements that will encourage safe, sustainable, green and cheaper forms of transport for citizens to use for commuting and leisure purposes.

“The nation is riding on the crest of a cycling wave after Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France and our many Olympic successes - now is the time to capitalise on this for the benefit of all.”

The ride also comes as the Transport, Connectivity & Sustainability Overview and Scrutiny Committee launches the first phase of its inquiry into what is needed to ensure a safe and welcoming transport system exists in Birmingham. This phase will include a focus on cycling and the role it can play in meeting Birmingham's transport needs.

The councillors' cycle ride will begin at the Council House in Victoria Square at 3.15pm on September 28 and finish at the same location approximately one hour later.

Ends

Notes to editors

The Scrutiny Committee's inquiry will be looking at how cycling can be made a safer and easier option for commuter and leisure purposes in Birmingham. The key lines of enquiry can be found at www.birmingham.gov.uk/scrutiny and responses are requested by October 5.

For more media information on the cycle ride please contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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