Yes, Sir. We are taking a fresh look at the whole subject of cycling in order to decide how best to improve facilities and safety for cyclists, and my right hon. Friend will be publishing a consultation paper shortly.
I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend. Will he pay par ticular attention to all the experiments that have taken place in the separation of cyclists from general traffic? Secondly, will he pay attention to the tremendous fuel saving involved when more people start cycling?
Certainly, Sir. The Department already gives advice and limited funds to experimental schemes segregating cyclists from other traffic. We are anxious to have some more of these schemes coming forward, and we shall offer such assistance as we can.
Is the Minister aware that there have been a considerable number of foreign cycles dumped on the British market recently, which have not been safe to start with and which have contributed to a considerable number of accidents? They have also put off many people from cycling. Will he take steps to introduce a British standard for bicycles which would lead to safe machines being sold in Britain?
We are certainly anxious to look at that problem. We are already contemplating, for instance, a new regulation on braking standards as soon as a new British standard can be arrived at. It is important that we maintain safety standards on British-made and imported bicycles.
Perhaps I may declare an interest as a part-time fair-weather cyclist. Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that we must welcome the Government's new-found, positive attitude towards cyclists and pedestrians? Will he assure the House that when the consultations that he has announced are complete, there will be more positive action from the Government, including, perhaps, a requirement on local authorities to provide safe cycle tracks?
We hope that the consultation paper will lead to a useful exercise. We are anxious to provoke more suggestions from those interested in cycling as to exactly what steps they would like the Government to be taking. Whether we shall impose new requirements or statutory duties on local authorities to spend funds on new facilities is a different matter, because we must have regard to the economic problems facing local authorities.
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware of the conditions out in the country? Many people are worried about his complacency over the maintenance of roads. Is he aware that that relates directly to the safety of cyclists and motor cyclists? Not only has the Parliamentary Secretary never been to Sheffield to try its public transport system; he has not been on the roads of places such as Kirkburton in my constituency, where the roads have so many potholes—under his Administration—that they are a danger to motor cyclists and cyclists.
Kirkburton is a bit of a bicycle ride from where I usually spend my time. However, we are not complacent about maintenance. We are spending an ever-increasing amount on the maintenance of trunk roads and other roads. I quite accept that, in judging what is the right level of maintenance, we must have regard to the interests of two-wheeled travellers.