The British government promised Monday to build thousands of miles of new bike lanes to get people moving and healthy after months of coronavirus lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge comes on the heels of a plan to force restaurants to display calories on menus as part of a broader effort to win the battle of the bulge.
Government data show two-thirds of UK adults are above a healthy weight. Some studies suggests that the virus is especially deadly to people who are obese.
“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,” Johnson said.
“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.”
Johnson introduced a bike sharing programme in London during his spell as the British capital’s mayor from 2008 to 2016.
But the so-called “Boris bikes” stood largely untouched during a months-long lockdown that still sees swathes of central London stand empty during working hours.
The government’s efforts to tease people out of lockdown and into their old spending habits that can give shops and restaurants a boost are complicated by Britain’s inability to safely reopen its schools.
Polls show people are also worried about using public transport. Many trains and buses are running half-empty during morning and evening commutes.
Johnson’s plan envisions more Briton’s biking and walking to work in the long term.
It promises to build “thousands of miles of protected cycle routes in towns and cities” as part of a £2 billion ($2.6 billion, 2.2 billion euro) “cycling and walking revolution”.
The government has also promised to start releasing the first batch of £50 “bike repair vouchers” to help people get old cycles fixed.
Britain’s official virus death toll of 45,759 is the highest in Europe.