Yesterday’s ministerial announcement of the creation of Cycling England, funded to the tune of "at least" £5m a year for the next three year’s took place at 10am at a conference organised by cycling promotion charity Lifecycle UK.
Earlier, transport minister Charlotte Atkins had visited Ashton Gate primary school in Bristol, one of 40 Bike It supported schools around the UK.
Fifty pupils cycled to yesterday’s ministerially blessed Bike Breakfast. At a similar event in October last year, 27 pupils biked for their bacon butties. Before a Bike It project officer started working with the school there were just 10-15 bikes arriving each day.
Katherine Rooney, Bike It’s officer for the south-west, believes the real test of Bike It’s effectiveness will be the level of cycling to school this Spring. She’s hoping 25 pupils will cycle on a regular basis.
The four Bike It officers around the UK tackle practical issues such as secure cycle storage, cycle paths and traffic calming measures close to schools.
Vicki Hill, Bike It officer for York, said: "Children love to cycle and our aim is to harness that enthusiasm and develop it so that children can become safe and responsible cyclists at an early age. Children who have been taught to cycle safely have a much better developed road sense."
Bike It officers, co-ordinated by Sustrans, are paid for via Bike Hub, a levy scheme created by the Bicycle Association of GB and the Association of Cycle Traders.
The companies directly contributing to Bike Hub are Bohle, Booost, Brompton, Clarks Cables, Concept, Cyclemotion, Fisher Outdoor Leisure, Giant, Hot Wheels, Ideal, Kinetics, Paligap (Kona), Madison, Mission, Moore Large, Moulton, Orbit, Pashley, Professional Cycle Marketing, Raleigh, Silverfish, Specialized, Trek, Universal,and Weldtite.
Consumers who buy bikes or bits from shops supplied by any of those suppliers contribute to the Bike Hub fund, albeit indirectly. Each company pays into the fund in its own way, some recouping part of the cost from retailers, others paying on their behalf.
Contributions have also been received from Aylesbury Training Group, BikeBiz.com, Butterworth Spengler Insurance, Company of Cyclists, Bob Chicken Snr., Nick Harvey of Bike Week, web design agency SiWIS and Velovision magazine.
Notable by its absence from the cycle-promoting, market-expanding Bike Hub scheme is Halfords, although many and varied overtures have been made to Britain’s market-dominating cycle retail chain.
One of the other projects funded by Bike Hub, and admired by Halfords, is Bikeforall.net, the web portal delivered in cooperation with the Department for Transport. This is a mammoth listing of up-to-date, relevant links to useful websites. It is independent and has no commercial axe to grind. The site is edited by BikeBiz.com’s Carlton Reid.