With a little luck, 2008 could become known as the year of the bike.

London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has already announced a massive cycling investment of £500 million over the next decade as part of the capital’s drive to help to cut pollution and congestion.

He is aiming for a cycling and walking transformation of the capital  and the investment will see  a new network of quick, simple, and safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians along with a new bike hire scheme.

This promises 6,000 bikes with availability every 300 metres – making  cycling accessible to many more Londoners.

There will also be new commuter cycle routes from inner and outer London and cycle zones around urban town centres.

The new measures are designed to give both cyclists and pedestrians a much higher priority in London and make a major contribution to tackling climate change.
The plan is to have at least one in 10 Londoners making a round trip by bike each day which would save around 1.6m tonnes of C02 – roughly equivalent to driving around the M25 about 55 million times!

If all goes to plan, we should expect to see traffic scenes like this

and this

in the UK in years to come 
Don’t you just love the bike-pushing-prams ?

Meanwhile,  Bike for All, which is supported by Cycling England, is searching for Britain’s first ‘cycling city’ and 10 new cycling towns.

The contest, which runs until the end of March, gives local councils the chance to bid for a share of £47 million set aside for new demonstration towns.

This is just part of a nationwide investment of £140 million for  cycling announced by the government in January.

The winners of the Bike for All competition will join six existing demonstration areas   Aylesbury, Exeter, Lancaster with Morecambe, Brighton and Hove and Derby and Darlington which have pioneered local projects such as building or redesigning local cycle routes and training people to cycle safely.

Bike for All says that by 2012  the expanded network of cycling towns and cities could save 16 million car journeys a year and create an extra 47 million cycle journeys – equivalent to a seven percent increase in national cycling levels.

As well as being great for the environment since they produce zero pollution, bikes can also help to tackle Britain’s growing obesity problem and improve the nation’s health.

Experts say that cyclists enjoy a level of fitness equal to that of a person 10 years younger and they believe heart disease rates could fall by up to 10% if a third of all short journeys were made by bike.

And if you need any further convincing, you can buy a bike for a tiny fraction of the price of a car and it requires no tax disc, insurance or fuel.

You can park it anywhere so no more expensive car parking charges and in the city rush hour  a bike can be almost twice as fast as a car!

To find out the basics about buying a bike and taking to the road on two wheels, check out this website.




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