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Ben Nicholls Calls for Gear Change in Cycling Policy

January 29, 2015 11:59 PM
Originally published by South Central Region Liberal Democrats

Romsey's Lib Dem candidate has joined calls for changes in local and national cycling policy, including the appointment of a political Cycling Champion.

Speaking at a hustings arranged by the Southampton branch of CTC - the national cycling charity - Ben Nicholls called for a Cycling Champion to be appointed from amongst Test Valley councillors, to ensure the high-level political leadership needed to raise the profile and take-up of cycling. Ben also supported Hampshire cyclists' calls for improvements to lights, cycle paths and driver awareness.

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Ben Nicholls says "cycling has major economic, health, environmental and social benefits,"

"It's clear from the expert cyclists in Southampton CTC, and from elsewhere, that cycling has major economic, health, environmental and social benefits," said Ben, after the event in Chilworth. "The CTC has emphasised the importance of political leadership on this issue, which I'm delighted to support, and which I hope the next Parliament grapples with. Larger vehicles, for example, make up 6% of our traffic but are involved in 20% of cycling-related accidents. It's time for the driving test to include a specific cycling section, and for increased awareness and training."

Nationally, the CTC has successfully lobbied for a major Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to the Infrastructure Bill, working closely with Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert. Locally, the charity has hundreds of members, ranging from self-professed 'hobby cyclists' to those covering up to a hundred miles a day in the sunnier months. Amongst key issues are the number of cycle-specific traffic lights; the importance of continued funding for Bikeability; and greater investment in infrastructure.

Romsey resident Michael Ward, who is the CTC Right to Ride Local Campaigner in Test Valley, commented, "It's great that more and more people are taking their bikes, but there's a lot we can do to make it a safer, more accessible activity. A dedicated councillor champion would be a big and important step, and I'm delighted Ben has come out in support of this."

Janet Burnage, a Romsey town councillor and enthusiastic cyclist, added, "Cycling is still seen too much as a 'niche activity', when actually it is a popular sport and a common way of getting to work for many. The Lib Dems nationally have made their commitment to cycling clear, which has huge knock-on benefits for the environment and for us all individually."

Information for Editors:

More information about Southampton CTC is at http://www.ctc.org.uk/local-groups/southampton-ctc.