London, July 29: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson rode a made-in-India Hero Cycles bike designed in the UK as he launched a new GBP 2-billion cycling and walking drive which is part of the government's anti-obesity strategy to combat COVID-19.
Johnson, 56, a known cycling enthusiast, was seen riding on a Hero Viking Pro bike to Canalside Heritage Centre at Beeston in Nottingham, central England, on Tuesday when he unveiled plans for thousands of miles of new protected bike lanes, cycle training for everyone and bikes available on prescription as part of a new fitness strategy. Also Read | Rahul Gandhi Asks 3 Questions to Modi Govt on Rafale Jets: Live News Breaking And Coronavirus Updates on July 29, 2020.
Cycling and walking have a huge role in tackling some of the health and environmental challenges that we face.
Our £2bn cycling strategy will encourage more cycling with thousands of miles of new bike lanes, and training for those who want to learn. pic.twitter.com/PwYtqXpdd1
— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) July 28, 2020
“From helping people get fit and healthy and lowering their risk of illness, to improving air quality and cutting congestion, cycling and walking have a huge role to play in tackling some of the biggest health and environmental challenges that we face,” said Johnson, a COVID-19 survivor.
“But to build a healthier, more active nation, we need the right infrastructure, training and support in place to give people the confidence to travel on two wheels. That's why now is the time to shift gears and press ahead with our biggest and boldest plans yet to boost active travel -- so that everyone can feel the transformative benefits of cycling,” he said. Also Read | Muslim Man, Who Had Claimed to be Islam's Prophet, Shot Dead in Pakistan Court.
The Viking Pro bike used by the prime mister is part of India's Hero Motors Company owned Insync brand, designed in Manchester and made in India by parent company Hero Cycles. Hero Cycles took over the brands Viking, Riddick and Ryedale and redesigned the range under the brand name Insync.
The company said its Insync range consists of 75 bikes and is the first to be designed at Hero Cycles Global Design Centre (HGD) in Manchester. “Insync is delighted that the Prime Minister rode one of our Viking bikes after announcing what will be a landmark moment for cycling in the UK,” said Pankaj M. Munjal, chairman and managing director of Hero Motors Company, which includes Hero Cycles, Insync, the Viking and Lectro brands.
“We strongly back all the measures announced in the strategy, a move we hope will see many more thousands of people taking to the roads on two wheels. Providing safer cycle routes, funding towards e-bikes and a bike repairs scheme will encourage even more riders to return to cycling or take it up for the first time, building on the stand-out success the industry has seen during the pandemic,” he said.
Johnson's new cycling plan is designed as a “comprehensive, long-term vision” to increase active travel, including cycle training for every child and adult who wants it, accessible through schools, local authorities or direct from cycle training schemes.
It comes alongside a new “Better Health” campaign, led by Public Health England (PHE), which calls on people to embrace a healthier lifestyle and to lose weight to cut down the risk from the disease, including the deadly coronavirus.
To encourage cycling as part of daily commute or routine, more cycle racks are set to be installed at transport hubs, town and city centres and public buildings, and funding will go towards new bike hangars and on street storage for people who do not have space to keep a bike at home.
The first round of government-backed “Fix Your Bike” repair vouchers worth GBP 50 each were released from Tuesday night to the public in a pilot scheme to encourage thousands to get back into cycling.
However, that scheme hit a roadblock as the website struggled to deal with the flow of demand for the vouchers. The Department for Transport said the vouchers are being released in batches "to help manage capacity".
“By helping to fix your bike – or get an electrically powered one; by increasing storage space at stations, on trains and buses; and by introducing more ways to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe, we're making it easier than ever to make active travel part of your daily life, and leading England to become a great cycling nation,” said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
A new Active Travel England inspectorate will be responsible for the government's cycling budget and help ensure schemes are compliant with the new higher standards set for infrastructure.
The new standards will make clear that schemes which make pedestrians and cyclists share the same space or which do not make meaningful change to the status quo on the road will not be funded.
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