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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 8:14 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Conservative, Hexham 8:14 pm, 2nd September 2013

The mind boggles: to know is to fear.

Those of us who are students of the film industry will hark back to the comment, “If you build it, they will come.” That is the case in relation to cycling. It is easy for too many civil servants, Ministers of all types, local authorities, county and parish councils to think that investment in cycling is not worth the money, the effort, the criticism by drivers and pedestrians and the sheer difficulty of persuading people to get out of their beloved vehicles. However, if we build the type of facilities that we all require in our local areas, cycling improves. We need only look at the success of places such as Seville, as eloquently set out in the report, where between 2007 and 2010, cycling went up from 6,000 journeys to 60,000 journeys. We need only look at the changes in New York or Holland, sponsored as we are by the Dutch tourism board, where 27% of journeys are by bike, compared with 2% in this country. That is patently the result of investment, support and local champions.

I suggest we look at the health benefits. Many have outlined the fact that we have an obesity crisis, and a great deal more work needs to be done on that. We should look at the benefits in terms of the cost of living, and we need to consider both the climate change and the tourism and economic benefits. I emphasise the need for local champions—not just the local larger champion of a county, but individual parish and county councillors who could make a difference locally. If we can start doing that and start working with health and wellbeing boards and the like, there is great potential to turn the topic from a fringe issue that we passionately debate to a mainstream way of life and way of travelling to work.