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Britse olympiërs schrijven brief: ‘Premier, als je ons wilt eren, verbeter dan het fietsklimaat’

Cavendish & Co willen een beter Brits fietsklimaat.

De Britten waren andermaal ijzersterk op de Olympische Spelen, met name op de baan. Tien olympische medaillewinnaars hebben hun handtekening gezet onder een opvallende brief aan premier Theresa May van het Verenigd Koninkrijk. De strekking van de brief: als je ons wilt eren voor onze prestaties, stimuleer dan het dagelijks gebruik van de fiets in ons land.

De medaillewinnaars zagen hun kans schoon om deze brief aan de premier te schrijven. Zij stelde in de media dat er geen grenzen zijn als het gaat om de wijze waarop de sporters worden geëerd voor hun bijzondere prestaties. Die uitspraak knoopten Cavendish en de andere sporters goed in hun oren…

De briefschrijvers stellen voor om 5 procent van het Britse transportbudget te besteden aan de ontwikkeling van een fietsklimaat. Dat is volgens hen goed om onder meer problemen als obesitas tegen te gaan, met auto’s verstopte steden te openen en het welzijn van de Britten te verbeteren. Onder andere mark Cavendish, Sir Chris Hoy, Laura Trott en Chris Boardman hebben hun naam onder de brief gezet (zie hieronder).

Prime Minister The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, 10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA

Dear Prime Minister,

The Great Britain Cycling Team athletes topped the cycling medal table for the third Olympic Games in a row at Rio 2016. It was a truly outstanding performance and enhances Britain’s status as the world’s leading elite cycling nation.

You were widely reported in the media as saying that there will be “no limits” on the honours that could be bestowed on our medal winners. But the best way to honour the achievements of our athletes would be a legacy of every-day cycling in this country – a place where cycling is the choice form of transport for people to get around in their daily lives.

Your predecessor called for a “cycling revolution” and your government’s manifesto sets out a target to “double” the number of journeys cycled. While some steps have been made, cycling is still a transport mode which does not enjoy the government investment or political leadership given to roads, rail or aviation.

The government is now considering feedback on the draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS). We urge the government to publish this and set out a timeline to address the chronic underfunding and lack of leadership which is keeping cycling for transport in the slow lane. Only networks of segregated cycle lanes in towns and cities across the country can achieve and influence growth.

The success of the CWIS will be felt not only across government but in all areas of the nation’s life. The government’s sports strategy seeks to extend the number of people living physically active lives and could be truly transformative. Active travel – walking and cycling – is the easiest way for people of all ages to fit physical activity into their lives. Currently, only one in five people achieve the recommended levels of physical activity.

Around one in three children is overweight or obese. The government’s childhood obesity strategy recognises the value of physical activity and the importance of walking and cycling to school. I am sure you know that this will seem a fanciful idea for most parents without the convenient walking and cycling routes which would give them the confidence that their children will be safe getting to school. Yet we know it can be achieved – in the Netherlands, 50% of education-age children cycle to school.

As cities like Copenhagen and New York have shown, cycling also creates better places to live and work. More cycling cuts congestion, reduces noise pollution and fuels local economies. Small businesses in New York have seen a 49% increase in business where cycle lanes have been installed.

There is huge latent demand for cycling. Two thirds of people would cycle more if they felt safer on the roads. The government’s road safety statement reiterates the manifesto commitment to reduce the number of cyclists killed or injured. The CWIS needs to set targets to improve road maintenance, enhance enforcement of the laws, and update the rules of the road to better consider the needs of cyclists.

To make this happen, we need 5% of the government’s transport spend allocated to cycling. This is the only way that cycling will be integrated into transport strategy and given the priority it deserves.

Investment in cycling as a form of transport isn’t purely an investment in cycle lanes. It is an investment that will pay off for the nation’s health, wealth, transport infrastructure and the vibrancy of our towns and cities. It has the added benefit of just making it easier for ordinary families to get to work and get to school.

Our athletes have inspired the country and now we urge the government to take cycling seriously as a transport option for everyone.

British Cycling’s policy adviser Chris Boardman would welcome a meeting to discuss this further. We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Boardman, policy adviser, British Cycling and Olympic gold medallist
Sir Chris Hoy, six-time Olympic gold medallist, joint most successful British Olympian
Laura Trott, four-time Olympic gold medallist and Britain’s most successful female Olympian
Jason Kenny, six-time Olympic gold medallist, joint most successful British Olympian
Mark Cavendish, Olympic silver medallist
Joanna Rowsell Shand, double Olympic gold medallist
Callum Skinner, Olympic gold and silver medallist
Elinor Barker, Olympic gold medallist
Owain Doull, Olympic gold medallist Katie Archibald, Olympic gold medallist
Becky James, double Olympic silver medallist Katy Marchant, bronze medallist

 

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