CYCLING remains in the headlines, with the Government calling for GPs to prescribe bike rides to improve health.

This follows the allocation of emergency funds for active travel to avoid gridlock of motor vehicles post lockdown. At a local level councillors make reference to the Local Transport Plan which is littered with references to investment in infrastructure and encouragement for people to cycle.

Benefits to individuals and society of cycling are well established (physical and mental health, reduced emissions and noise, safety, I can go on….), so why aren’t more of us choosing to ride a bike for those everyday short journeys?

I’m going for a simple answer. Barriers. And if the local decision makers are serious about getting more of us out of cars and onto bikes, every time a barrier is identified, it needs to be dismantled. Let’s see if we can get rid of some here.

So, to start, there are physical barriers. The picture is a cycle path in Worcester. This means I not only have to stop, I have to get off. Depending on my circumstances this may require removal of bags, unhooking a trailer, lifting the bike, or having to find a different route. Bonkers.

Other physical barriers are similarly frustrating; a bike lane stopping at each side junction, cycleway too narrow to allow bikes to pass, poor signage, or the surface is poor or has accumulated debris. This is where you’ll see the infrastructure not being used.

In addition, there are the subconscious or metaphorical barriers. Roads are dangerous. Weather is rubbish. I’ll be too cold, I’ll be too hot. No showers at work. Bike needs fixing. You need special equipment. Can’t carry the shopping. I’m too old. They’re too young. It takes too long. Misleading statistics. And at that the decision has been made, and we’re into our cars, for those of us who have the luxury.

I’m happy to submit evidence to argue that all of the non-physical barriers are cobblers (see future articles; the one on weather is a doozy). But that doesn’t stop them being present in our minds during the periods when we are making the decision of how we choose to travel for any given journey.

READ MORE: Council asks for £1m in cycling money after first bid disappoints

Perhaps the biggest barrier we struggle to get to grips with is change.

For several generations we have been fed the aspirational dream of individual car ownership and the freedom that brings, but ignoring the negative impact to our health, societal wellbeing, and our environment.

What we’re being asked to do is to revert back to a form of transport that pre-dates the two-car family, but with the convenience of the car sat outside our houses.

It’s never going to be easy to cut down.

So, a message to the MPs, the councillors, the teachers, the doctors, the parents. If, as a society, we want more active travel, at every opportunity lead by example and get on your bike. And as you encounter barriers, systematically and publicly dismantle them.