Commuting will be easier for UK cyclists after lockdown, Chris Boardman tells Maajid

9 May 2020, 15:46 | Updated: 9 May 2020, 21:19

By Seán Hickey

The former Olympic cyclist hinted at a shift in how we travel after coronavirus live on LBC.

Chris Boardman MBE won an individual pursuit gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics and is now working for the Greater Manchester council. He spoke to Maajid Nawaz about how we can see a change in how the UK travels during lockdown and how it is paving the way for the future of commuting in the UK.

Mr Boardman began by sharing with Maajid the simple fact of how easy it is to transform the British commute. "The average journey across the whole of the UK is five miles, so it is viable" the former Olympian said. Maajid pushed the topic, highlighting how younger generations think about travel could be changed through the lockdown.

"While traffic is low, the opportunity to introduce children to cycling" is great, he stated, pointing out his own son's eagerness to take up cycling.

Mr Boardman told Maajid that Manchester had plans to transform its network to make cycling more accessible until lockdown meant "parts of scheme have become high priority." Maajid wanted to know if there are other cities are taking the same approach, when Mr Boardman said that "potential for massive car bounce back is a huge threat" globally and cycling initiatives are being fast tracked during lockdown so they can be ready once lockdown is lifted. "We've weeks to show people they don't need to get back in the car" he said.

Brits are cycling more during lockdown and this is pushing councils to make cycling more accessible nationwide
Brits are cycling more during lockdown and this is pushing councils to make cycling more accessible nationwide. Picture: PA

Maajid pointed out to the walking and cycling commissioner that there are "mountains of evidence on why should we lower pollution" and his work pushes towards this objective. He added that while "lockdown may not be good for people's mental health, exercise is perfect antidote" and many people across the country are realising this as they ditch the car during lockdown to walk and cycle more.

Mr Boardman agreed, revealing that "people who travel by bike were the only ones who missed commuting" during this coronavirus lockdown. He went on to share that the measures councils nationwide are taking to lower speed limits are paving the way for more walking and cycling.

Maajid pushed on this and the former olympic cyclist went on to explain. Reducing speed limits to 20mph has led to "an environment where a 12 year old can go out on the road" to cycle, and has also had a psychological effect on commuters.

"Lower speed limit not only means lower deaths but more walking and cycling" the commissioner said. He made the case that reducing speeds on the road leads to people seeing it safer to commute by foot and for cyclists to be more confident to take to the road.

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