Cycle Tracks Bill

Part of Schedule 2 – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 30 March 1984.

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Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley , Eltham 1:45, 30 March 1984

It is important to recognise that we owe a duty to travellers to make them as safe as possible. Cyclists, like pedestrians, are in great danger from motor cars and lorries. The experience of those of us who cycle and who are not yet members of "athletes anonymous" have recognised the value of the cycle tracks that have been introduced. If my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight) wishes to join the House of Commons football team this Sunday, perhaps he will have a word with me later behind the Chair.

The experience of cyclists has been one of growing danger. The amount of traffic on London's bridges has risen by 50 per cent. during the past 10 years. That is a demonstration of the increased number of vehicle miles. As the number of cyclists has also grown during the past 10 years, there is an increased danger all round.

There was a time when the movement for cycle tracks was seen as a fringe enthusiasm. That has changed. My experience in cycling around London is that it is slightly less dangerous than travelling on a moped, but still highly dangerous. All hon. Members will have experienced sadness and sorrow when they hear of children having been killed and adults having cycle accidents.

The improvements suggested by the Bill of making it easier to have cycle tracks enacted and to cut away some of the bureaucracy presently associated with that will encourage more local authorities to press ahead with the good ideas that are being argued for by the various cyclist groups and those concerned with road safety.

At the same time, we must mention the responsibility of cyclists to take measures towards greater safety. I remember that when I was growing up and cycling it was rare to see a cycle without lights at night. During the past few years, there has been a growing tendency for lights to be absent from bicycles or, if they are present, not to be used. One reason for that is the increased amount of vandalism and petty theft which has made it more risky for people to leave lamps on parked cycles. Indeed, it is risky to leave a cycle almost anywhere because we often see a frame chained to a lamp-post with its wheels removed.

It is important for people to have respect for other people's safety. They should be willing to change society so that it will again be safe to leave a lamp on a cycle. We should perhaps encourage the police to pay rather more attention to cycles without lights.