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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 8:02 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Graham Evans Graham Evans Conservative, Weaver Vale 8:02 pm, 2nd September 2013

I agree with my hon. Friend and thank him for that wonderful intervention. I hope that those people on the Tour have their passports ready to go into Yorkshire and, importantly, to come out of it.

I welcome the Government’s cycle safety fund to redesign junctions. However, while they are encouraging sensible planning, there is no single, consistent and enforceable design standard for bicycles regarding new development. As an aspect of planning, surely that should be as obvious as putting on a helmet before getting on a bike. As is the case for many hon. Members, house builders are building thousands of new homes in my constituency, but their designs suggest that little thought has been given to making roads accessible via a bike. Given that the county of Cheshire is relatively flat, perhaps its councils could be a beacon to show all authorities how cycling can be a pleasure for all.

We should examine speeds in residential areas for the benefit of not only cyclists, but pedestrians. The Department for Transport has made it easier for councils to impose 20 mph areas, which is a great step forward for locally focused safety, but now is the time to consider whether there should be a default limit of 20 mph for residential areas, with councils given the discretion to change that. Such a measure could reduce the number of road incidents.

Heavy goods vehicles pose a major risk to cyclists. Nearly half of all cycle fatalities in the capital are due to HGVs, although those vehicles make up only 5% of the overall traffic. Better awareness of cyclists, restrictions during peak traffic times and more international co-operation on HGV design would clearly be important steps, so I welcome the Department’s ongoing work in that area.

The Government have made significant investment in cycling, with £148 million invested by 2015, but it has been clear from listening to hon. Members’ speeches that cohesive thinking and cross-departmental work will encourage cycling even more. I welcome the excellent work of the all-party cycling group and I hope that the debate demonstrates how, with a proactive attitude, we can ensure that cycling becomes an important part of British life.