Cyclists and Pedestrians

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of Mrs Anne Campbell Mrs Anne Campbell , Cambridge 12:00 am, 3rd April 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he will take to improve provision for cyclists and pedestrians. [15701]

Photo of Mr Steven Norris Mr Steven Norris , Epping Forest

The responsibility for making safe provision for cyclists and pedestrians rests principally with local highway authorities. They are able to bid for appropriate funding in their annual transport policies and programmes submission to the Department of Transport.

Photo of Mrs Anne Campbell Mrs Anne Campbell , Cambridge

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?

Photo of Mr Steven Norris Mr Steven Norris , Epping Forest

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.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan , Blaby

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.

Photo of Mr Steven Norris Mr Steven Norris , Epping Forest

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.