Cycling minister and Conservative MP for Scarborough Robert Goodwill has admitted that the United Kingdom is 30 years behind where it should be in terms of cycling progression.
For those who falter when it comes to maths, that puts road cycling back in the 1980s with Rick Astley, mullets and the film ‘Over the Top’, where Sylvester Stallone tried to do the same thing for arm wrestling as he did for boxing in ‘Rocky’. It didn’t work.
The revelation came after British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman went a little over the top himself and invited Goodwill on a trip to Copenhagen in Denmark to show him exactly how good cycling infrastructure can be.
A massive two thirds of all people cycle regularly in the Danish capital, and they get den-marks out of ten for their innovations as well, with some ingenious road designs making Copenhagen ‘the best cycling city in the world’.
Boardman is eager for Goodwill to campaign for the £10 per head annual spend that many think necessary to try and get British cycling rolling in the right direction, and after the trip to the world’s premium cycling city, the politician was indeed making some promising noises.
He told British Cycling: “It was rather a shock to see just how many people were cycling. When I say people, I mean just that – ordinary people in ordinary clothes; people of all ages, people with young children, and a lot of women.”
Presumably, when Goodwill says ‘people, ordinary people’, he is referring to the culture of lycra, high-vis, helmet-wearing riders who would count themselves as ‘cyclists’ in Britain, a culture which Boardman has previously argued could put some ‘non-cyclists’ off getting out on the road on two-wheels.
Goodwill continued: “The other thing that struck me was that if all of those people on their bikes had been in cars, the place would have been completely jammed. So I think the motorists understand that having all these people on bikes actually gives them more space.
“There are a lot of innovative ideas we’ll be taking back with us, [but] this has happened over a long period of time. The problem we have in Britain is that we should have started 30 years ago.”
“That means we need to re-double [ed. note: so, quadruple?] our efforts to ensure we get what the Prime Minister called a ‘cycling revolution’ in the UK, so we can come here without having to hand our heads in shame.”
The trip came after Boardman visited Copenhagen earlier in the year, and presumably thought that the Cycling Minister could benefit from doing the same. It certainly sounds like Goodwill has been inspired, so here’s hoping there could be positive investment on the way in the not-so-distant future.
Boardman certainly was pleased with how the trip went, saying: “Robert Goodwill was able to see how much work is needed to bring British cities up to speed with Copenhagen.
“This is a big step forward. I think he saw the huge benefits of proper investment in cycling and I think more of his colleagues in government should see this for themselves.”