Prime Minister to create £1 billion cross-departmental body to encourage pro-cycling policy in government

According to reports on the BikeBiz website, the Coalition Government is on the point of creating a new £1 billion 'Office for Active Travel' (OAT) to promote cycling and walking policy across ministries.

The OAT is likely to receive cross-party support, and the £1 billion could be spent rapidly on pedestrian and cycling projects, many of which have already been planned by local authorities but lack funding.

LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said:

"We'd welcome a cross-departmental government body that had substantial spending capacity and power to direct ministries towards policies that benefit cycling and walking. 

"As called for in the crpss-party 'Get Britain Cycling' Parliamentary report, any such body should have clearly framed short-term and long-term targets to increase cycling use and safety, and the Prime Minister should appoint a government cycling champion, preferably at Cabinet-level, to make sure these targets are reached."

Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting cycling manufacturer Hope's high-tech factory in Lancashire, said:

“There is a huge clamour for cycling - it’s a growth industry - and I will be looking with an enthusiastic eye to see what we can do.”

“With more backing of the industry from the Government, I can see it [cycling] quadrupling in the county.”

The rumours around the creation of an OAT come soon after a petition calling on the PM to adopt the recommendations of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group's Get Britain Cycling report gained over 40,000 signatures in just a week (sign the petition). 

Various names are being discussed as potential cycling 'czars', the public figures pushing for better cycling policy.

Olympic gold medalist Chris Boardman and former head of Cycling England Philip Darnton are rumoured to be in the frame.

In November 2012, the Government's advisory body on public health, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), called on central and local authorities to do much more to promote walking and cycling to combat increasing health problems caused by inactive lifestyles. 

LCC volunteers were involved in producing the NICE guidance, which is aimed at schools, workplaces, local councils, highways authorities, town planners, public transport operators, private developers, and NHS managers.

It's believed the OAT could be announced during the summer's Comprehensive Spending Review.