Over a quarter of motorists would consider leaving their cars behind and opting for pedal power instead if congestion charging was to become a reality in the UK's cities, says Edmund King, the biking executive director of the RAC Foundation

RAC Foundation wants some motorists to become cyclists

To coincide with yesterdays launch of the National Cycle Network, the RAC Foundation revealed that over 28 per cent of drivers (in a poll of 429 motorists) said they might swop four wheels for two if they had to pay tolls to enter towns

24 per cent said that they would think about biking to work if they had to pay to use a parking space.

The Foundation which used to be part of the RAC but is now an independently-funded organisation in its own right urged the Government to capitalise on this potential for change by ensuring that positive incentives are used and difficulties minimised in order to lure drivers back to their bikes before the punitives of road user charging are brought to bear.

To ensure a genuine renaissance in cycling the Foundation has also suggested the inclusion of proficiency testing for young cyclists as part of the National Curriculum in schools and better training for motorists on hazard perception, including awareness training, on the vulnerability of cyclists.

The current state of the nation’s roads, with widespread unresolved maintenance problems, will also need to be addressed in order to woo drivers back to the saddle, said a statement from the RAC Foundation.

All very enouraging stuff from a motorists organisation. Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, is a keen cyclist himself. He gets around central London by bike, finding it quicker than by car. Bizarrely, he is often interviewed on the TV news arguing from a motorists perspective yet will have generally arrived at the interview on his folding bike!

King shares many of the aims of Sustrans:

"We welcome the opening of the National Cycle Network as a wonderful asset to the country and we would like to encourage individuals to cycle to work as well as for leisure. That may well involve sharing road space with cars, buses and lorries and needs a different approach and more awareness on all sides.

"[Our] survey results show that motorists may consider the option of cycling as an altentative to motoring but it would be satisfying to achieve the switch by positive actions rather than the negative persuasion of congestion charging or workplace parking charges.

"The best way of doing that has to be to convince motorists that cycling is safe and pleasurable as well as green. The National Cycle Network could well be an ideal starting place for people who haven’t got their bikes out of the garage for years – as well as being a perfect route for the more serious cyclist to navigate the UK.

"The sooner we overcome the "them and us" mentality, the quicker we will all learn to share the limited resource of road space more responsibly and pursuade drivers to come out from behind their steering wheels.

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