Now is the time to enable active travel, not just encourage it

By: Adam Tranter, Bicycle Mayor for Coventry, co-host of Streets Ahead podcast and Chief Executive of Fusion Media….writing for

If you want to drive or need to take the train as lockdown restrictions lift, by my reckoning, you should do everything in your power to ensure that cycling and walking become primary methods of transport in Britain.

Against all odds, it looks like active travel just might get the attention it rightly deserves. The humble bicycle comes into its own in a crisis: efficient, cheap, versatile, resilient. All of its qualities during a crisis are also its downfall outside of one. Without an urgency for change (even the Climate Emergency hasn’t been treated urgently), it’s tempting for those in charge to gaze at an abstract future of transport.

When there’s the choice of autonomous pods or electric vehicles manufactured by a midnight-tweeting-megalomaniac, it’s easy to overlook the bicycle. The bicycle is just too, well, effective. Much like buses, bikes are too boring to get to the top of policy documents. Despite being hugely effective at moving vast swarms of people from A to B, and helping deliver social mobility along the way, no politician really wants to stand in front of a lectern and announce something to do with cycling.

But that’s exactly what the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, looks like he may do this week. And I don’t think I’m overstating it to say it may well save many more lives and the economy along with it.

At the best of times, we have a capacity problem in transport. But when it comes to getting Britain moving again post-lockdown, there will be tens of millions of daily journeys that can no longer happen by their usual mode.

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