A COUNCILLOR has praised a new government scheme to promote bicycle awareness for driving instructors but wants to see more funds spent on cycle paths.

The Government’s Department for Transport has unveiled plans to spend £500,000 training driving instructors to incorporate cycling safety into their lessons for learners.

It follows a clampdown on motorists driving too close to cyclists, with some police forces already imposing £100 fines and three penalty points for drivers caught passing less than 1.5 metres from bikes.

Councillor Louis Stephen, chair of Worcester Green Party, said he and his colleages are “pleased” to see the initiative introduced.

“Encouraging cycling is one of the tools in the box to help us reduce city centre congestion and to tackle obesity in the country,” said Cllr Stephen, who represents Battenhall ward on the city council.

“Many people are worried about cars, buses and trucks passing too close when passing – so this initiative is welcome.”

However, he said to “really promote cycling” investment is “needed far more in properly segregated cycle paths”.

Referring to figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, realised in October 2014, he said the annual cost of congestion to our economy is over £12 billion.

“Yet the amount we spend on cycling is tiny compared to the money we spend on roads,” he added.

The training will be provided by Bikeability – the government-funded training standard for cyclists to ensure cyclists’ safety is at the forefront of their minds when teaching new drivers.

A Cycling UK commissioned poll showed that 56 per cent of UK adults were put off cycling by the threat of close passes.

Councillor Ken Pollock, cabinet member for economy and infrastructure at the county council, said: “Alternative ways of getting around the county are becoming increasingly important in our challenge to reduce congestion.

“We welcome these plans to incorporate more cycle safety for driving instructors.

“Making it easier for cyclists to travel is a priority for us.

“Later this week we are announcing £3.4m of improvements to walking and cycle ways in Bromsgrove and we will soon be sharing our plans for £3.2m investment into cycle and walkways in Worcester between Sidbury, the bottom of London Road, and St Johns.”