Is the Minister aware that three quarters of all journeys are less than five miles long and that, at present, only 1 per cent. of them are made by bicycle? What is he doing to ensure safe networks on which parents are prepared to let their children travel and to encourage more people to cycle?
The hon. Lady is right, although it is about 2.5 per cent. of all journeys in this country that are made by cycle. That compares with an average throughout Europe of about 15 per cent. Although our road safety record generally is excellent, the prospects of being injured as a cyclist are substantially higher in this country than in some countries where cycling is more central to local transport provision. The hon. Lady is on to a very good point which I have strongly endorsed myself. The mechanisms for delivering what she seeks are the TPP submissions from local authorities which are being guided by the Department in its transport supplementary grant guidance to ensure that, when packages are put together by local authorities, they include a significant cycling element.
I am delighted that my hon. Friend supports cycling, but will he hold discussions with his colleagues at the Department of Health and the Department for Education to encourage schoolchildren to bicycle or walk to school? We are told that children are getting fat and unfit because they sit on their backsides too much and do not take exercise; we are told that they are getting unhealthy and developing asthma because of air pollution; and we can all see the congestion for ourselves. This is a very serious issue, and I hope that my hon. Friend will respond accordingly.
My hon. Friend is right. Cycling is environmentally sound and healthy and it is a thoroughly desirable form of transport, but most people would not exactly relish the prospect of challenging a 40 ft articulated lorry for priority on the road. The reality is that we have to create conditions in which thoroughly un-lycra people such as me might be tempted to improve their health substantially by cycling. My hon. Friend's enthusiasm is legendary and much to be welcomed.