A MULTI-MILLION pound drive to promote cycling in cities and national parks has been announced by the Prime Minister – including the New Forest.

The initiative includes plans to make roads safer for those on two wheels and means a number of English cities will get Government money for cycling schemes.

A scheme encouraging families to cycle in the New Forest has awarded £3.6 million by the government, match-funded to the tune of £2.2m from the private sector and local authorities.

The national park is one of four to benefit from a share of the Department for Transport’s funding pot.

The investment is expected to create more than 30 new jobs and generate income for local businesses, as well as improve cycling facilities and management for residents and visitors.

It is hoped that the proposed projects will replace an estimated 127,000 car journeys with bike trips every year.

The plan includes a private sector-led family cycling centre next to Brockenhurst Railway Station, a network for mobile bike docking stations and pedal buses, and improvements to signage on existing cycle routes.

Julian Johnson, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: “This scheme will mean that leaving your car at home and choosing to cycle to and around the National Park will be much more appealing for families. This is good news for our health, in reducing traffic and for protecting this nationally-important landscape.”

Barry Rickman, leader of New Forest District Council, added: “Cycling already provides support to the New Forest’s economy and with it the creation of associated employment.

“We are pleased that this economic growth opportunity is recognised within the scheme and that plans are in place throughout the towns and villages that make up the forest’s local community.”

Today's announcement also included a commitment from the Government to cut red tape that can stifle cycle-friendly road design and to encourage changes to the way roads are built or altered.

Councils will be expected to up their game to deliver infrastructure that takes cycling into account from the design stage.

Mr Cameron said: "Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high - now we want to see cycling soar.

"Our athletes have shown they are among the best in the world and we want to build on that, taking our cycling success beyond the arena and onto the roads, starting a cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists."

He went on: "This Government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle as well as encouraging far more people to take it up and business, local government, developers, road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in helping to achieve this."

New trunk road schemes that have a significant impact on cyclists, such as junction improvements or road-widening, will be 'cycle-proofed' so they can be navigated confidently by the average cyclist.

This commitment to improved cycling facilities is intended to put Britain on a level-footing with countries known for higher levels of cycling like Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "We have seen a significant growth in the number of cyclists in London over the last few years. But cycling shouldn't be confined to the capital.

"Today's announcement shows we are absolutely committed to boosting cycling in cities and the countryside across the whole of England. I want to help open up cycling to more people and these measures to make cycling safer on our roads are an important part of that."

It was also announced that there would be a feasibility study to look into creating a new national cycleway broadly following the route of the HS2 rail line from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, linking communities and rail stations to work, schools and shops as well as countryside and tourist attractions along the way; In addition, a new national School Awards Scheme will be created to recognise schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting cycling and walking.

The UK cycle industry, led by the Bicycle Association, has volunteered to work with Government to sponsor this award. It was also announced that the Government is extending its commitment to support Bikeability cycle training into 2015/16.

All of the cities receiving funding have either already implemented, or are looking to expand, the network of 20mph zones through the cycle funding, with Norfolk and Cambridge looking to introduce extensive area-wide 20mph schemes. Similar work has been done to make it easier to introduce 40mph limits in rural areas.

Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of sustainable transport charity Sustrans, said: "This is fantastic news for those living in the successful cities. Getting about by bike for everyday journeys could become a reality for people of all ages and abilities in those areas, and we warmly welcome this initiative.

"We welcome the recognition that for the cycling revolution to become a way of life for us all this level of investment must be maintained and extended to all parts of the UK, including rural areas.

"Currently only one in 50 trips is made by bike, and we will welcome ongoing investment to achieve a 10-fold increase in cycling to make this revolution the norm."

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "No amount of cynical spin from David Cameron will make up for the fact that, immediately on taking office, he axed Cycle England, the Cycle Demonstration Towns scheme and the annual £60m budget to support cycling that he inherited.

"Since then he has axed targets to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads, reduced traffic enforcement, cut the THINK! awareness campaign and allowed longer HGVs.

"Only last month the Prime Minister set out plans for Britain's roads that failed to include a single commitment to the investment in separated cycling infrastructure that is the best way to boost cycling and make it safer.

"Tragically the number of cyclist deaths are now at a five-year high, reversing the progress that was starting to be made, and reports of new casualties are becoming a weekly occurrence.

"Labour would support cycling and make it safer for cyclists by using the existing roads budget to deliver long term support for separated safe cycling routes and safer junctions, introduce a new Cycling Safety Assessment for new transport schemes, restore national targets and introduce tough new rules on HGVs."

Professor David Cox, chairman of national cycling charity CTC, said: "David Cameron has today shown the leadership that CTC and other cycling groups have long called for.

"We now urge MPs of all parties to speak up for cycling in Parliament in September, calling for the funding needed to transform Britain's streets into a continental-style 'Cycletopia'. With growing political support for cycling, this really might now be possible."