Cycling Minister Robert Goodwill said the multi-million pound investment will bring a ‘revolution’ in regional cycling as soon as 2020 in Newcastle
Multi-million pound cycling investment will put Newcastle at the vanguard of a two-wheeled revolution in regional cities, leaders believe.
Cycling Minister Robert Goodwill said the city could be a “leading example” in how to develop cycle lanes, education and safety.
He was speaking as hundreds of experts gathered at the Civic Centre for an international cycling conference and the opening of The Journey, a new central bike hub part funded by the Government.
Mr Goodwill, who was joined by Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Chris Boardman for the hub’s launch on Thursday, said: “Another five years of concerted effort and investment and I believe we can build a cycling revolution in the North East.
“We’ve already set a target for doubling the number of journeys that people make using bicycles and what I’m keen to stress is the journeys we really need to encourage people to take are those short journeys, the journeys to school and to the shops, maybe three, four, five miles – you don’t need to be part of the lycra brigade to take part in that.
“We inherited £2 a head from the previous Labour Government and nationally we are running at £6 per head but in places like Newcastle because of our real enthusiasm to get these cycling cities going it’s £10 a head.
“You could always spend more but we believe we are really stepping up to the mark and people can see that money is being spent effectively.”
The spend in many European cities is far higher, including in Holland, which had a representative from the Dutch Cycling Embassy at the conference.
The Minister also used his visit to the city to announce that the Government is starting work on a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) for England as part of their Infrastructure Act.
Leader of Newcastle City Council Nick Forbes, who joined the Minister for a brief bike-ride through the city centre despite a torrential downpour, said his ambition was to see more people cycling.
He said: “Newcastle is placing itself at the forefront of a vanguard which will transform the way that people are getting around.
“As a council we are determined to invest in our future by reducing congestion in our city and tackling the dominance of the car.
“Many cities in Europe have fantastic cycling infrastructure and I want Newcastle to rival its European counterparts.”
Newcastle has £10.6m pledged to it by the Government as part of their Cycle City Ambition Fund which will go on schemes in the city’s West End, the Ouseburn, Heaton and the Coast Road.
Some £5.7m handed over in an earlier round of funding will go towards the John Dobson Street upgrade, part of Cowgate roundabout and Elswick and Benwell cycle lanes.
Money from the fund has also been spent on The Journey hub, next to the Laing Gallery, which has been developed by travel charity Sustrans, in partnership with Newcastle City Council.
Its cafe will be run by Colour Coffee, which runs Pink Lane Coffee, and Recyke y’Bike who are selling second hand bikes and carrying out repairs.
Coun Forbes said: “Newcastle got the largest amount from the Cycle City Ambition Fund of any city in the UK and that’s testement to the partnership work with the cycling community.”
The council is also investing £60m – the largest sum in 30 years – in general infrastructure and roads.
Jason Torrance, Sustrans Policy Director said the Minister’s announcement that they are developing a cycling and walking strategy nationwide was.”a bold step forward”.