The chief executive of Halfords, Britain’s biggest bike retailer, has written to ministers asking for the stats to be included on the slides shown at the beginning of the daily press conference – which show other modes like public transport and driving journeys.
The government is keen to encourage people on bikes as a way of taking pressure off public transport and use road space more efficiently during the pandemic, and has made it easier for councils to throw up “pop-up” cycle lanes other facilities to help people commute to work on two wheels.
“I believe that adding cycling data to the daily briefing in the way I have described would serve to remind people about the desirability of the cycling option and help nudge those for whom cycling to work is a viable option to move in the right direction,” said Graham Stapleton, the business’s CEO.
Mr Stapleton said various technologies were available to highway authorities to count the number of cyclists, such as pneumatic tubes, piezo-electric sensors, inductive loops, and camera systems.
He added: “Over the past week, the Prime Minister and other members of the Government, including the Secretary of State for Transport, have encouraged people returning to the workplace to avoid public transport if they possibly can, and to cycle, walk or drive instead.
“I applaud the Government for the steps it is taking to facilitate safer transport choices and in particular for the immediate investment of £250m in cycling infrastructure, I look forward to the National Cycling Plan in June and to the appointment of a Cycling and Walking Commissioner.”
The letter was sent to Michael Gove, the cabinet office minister, with the prime minister, transport secretary, and cabinet office permanent secretary coped in.
On May 9, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, announced a £250m emergency “active travel fund” to fund the construction of segregated cycle tracks across the country.
The government has promised it will ultimately plough £2 billion into the policy to transform Britain roads, with cycling seen as the only mode of transport that will allow people to social distance, deliver the capacity to get people to work, and not cause huge tailbacks of traffic jams.
Before the crisis only a baseline of around 4 per cent of commuter journeys in the UK are carried out by bike, significantly lower than in some neighbouring countries like the Netherlands and Denmark.
A Government spokesperson said: “We have received this letter and will respond in due course. The slides at the daily Downing Street press conferences are kept under constant review.
“To encourage more people to walk and cycle into work during the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve announced a £2bn package which will pay for, among other things, pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements and safer junctions.
Travel stats are regular fixture at daily press conferences but don’t include cycling