Darlington Cycling Campaign today welcomed the news that the town is to receive £1.5million from central government for new cycling initiatives. Darlington is one of six towns that have won the cash. But it warned that the local authority now has to be bold in its approach if it wishes to encourage people to leave their cars and take to their bikes.
The town’s Cycling Campaign has actively supported the local authority in its aims. Said campaign chair Richard Grassick, “We now hope that, with this award, a genuinely attractive, safe and direct cycling network will be developed in Darlington. Cyclists have until recently been a relatively small political voice in the town. But we know people want to cycle, and to do so safely. This will only be achieved if the priorities given to cars in the town are now challenged. It is a very straight forward engineering solution, but one that most politicians can’t face. The bullet must now be bitten – cars should give way to cyclists and pedestrians where they cross paths, not vice versa”.
Darlington Cycling Campaign has been particularly vocal in arguing for better, and safer, everyday cycling provision. “Political thinking has often been very muddled in relation to cycling. It is interesting that the government’s comments on these awards focussed on the health benefits of cycling”, said Mr. Grassick. “Of course cycling is very healthy, but it is also an everyday means of transport. Once politicians understand that we want to cycle to work or school in our everyday clothes safely, and not just dress up in sporty lycra at weekends, we will be on the right track. We now have three years to really make a difference in Darlington. We hope that by 2009, most parents will feel that it is safe to allow their kids to cycle to school, and that most commuters will feel it is quicker to cycle to the town centre than to drive. When we achieve this, we will surely have demonstrated to the country that cycling is a safe and healthy way to get around”.
The funding from the Department of Transport will be used over the next three years, coinciding with the period of development currently being funded by the Town on the Move initiative.