Oral Answers to Questions — Cycling

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24 April 2001.

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Photo of Mrs Anne Campbell Mrs Anne Campbell Labour, Cambridge 12:00, 24 April 2001

What action he plans to take to make cycling safer. [157181]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. Robert Ainsworth):

The Government's road safety strategy, "Tomorrow's roads: safer for everyone", sets out our strategy to make cycling safer. It embraces measures that cyclists can take to protect themselves, including wearing cycle helmets, training and making it safer to cycle on the road through engineering measures. Further measures to educate drivers will also be of benefit.

Photo of Mrs Anne Campbell Mrs Anne Campbell Labour, Cambridge

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Will he commend Cambridge university for its innovative park and cycle scheme that is due to open on Thursday? It offers not only secure cycle parking, but a safe and easy route to cycle into the centre of Cambridge. Does he agree that that is a commendable scheme that should be copied by others?

Mr. Ainsworth:

A great deal of good work on cycling has been done in Cambridge because it has a far higher proportion of cyclists than elsewhere in the country. Much of the town's work over the years is to be commended. Many of its initiatives have improved cycling safety in the city and set good examples for others to follow.

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot

I hope that the Minister will acknowledge the splendid example set by my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) and the bicycling baronet, my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young), both of whom have done much to promote cycling.

Apparently, flashing lights on cycles are illegal, and one is supposed to have a steady light. However, a flashing light is much more readily seen by motorists, particularly in wet conditions. May I urge the Minister to change the regulations in that respect?

Mr. Ainsworth:

I congratulate anybody who tries to encourage more people to cycle. I am not sure how the 10-minute journey cycled by the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) contributes to that cause, but I am sure that it is having an effect. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth) chose not to mention his bowler-hatted cyclist colleague on the Back Benches.

There are minimum standards for cycle lights, and there is nothing to stop cyclists having flashing lights in addition to steady lights that meet those minimum requirements. I shall look into the matter, and if we believe that a change would improve safety, we will consider it.

Photo of Denis MacShane Denis MacShane Labour, Rotherham

All Tory cyclists are well known flashers, as the Minister knows. Is it not safest to cycle in a dedicated cycle lane, instead of using the little yellow lines that simply attract motorists to try to knock down cyclists such as me as I come to Parliament? Will the Minister talk to Westminster city council about having dedicated cycle lanes in the centre of London? We are the worst city in the world for cycling and it is a disgrace that that Tory council will not give London cyclists lanes to ensure that they can travel round the centre in safety.

Mr. Ainsworth:

As part of local transport plans we now expect local authorities to produce and update, a cycling strategy, which will include measures to make cycling safer. My hon. Friend knows that we have provided £8.4 billion in the local transport settlement, so there is no excuse for local authorities such as Westminster to continue to neglect that matter.