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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 8:20 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour, Edinburgh North and Leith 8:20 pm, 2nd September 2013

Absolutely. My hon. Friend points to the commitment of Edinburgh council not just to maintain a 5% level of all transport spend, both revenue and capital, on cycling but to increase it year on year by 1%, which is a major commitment. In a briefing to some of us earlier, Chris Boardman said that it was the first city in the UK to make that commitment. That contrasts with the poor record of the SNP Scottish Government in supporting cycling. It is interesting that the success of the Pedal on Parliament campaign in Edinburgh has had the effect of shaming the Scottish Government into putting more money into cycling. That is a tribute to such campaigning work, which is so important at the grass roots.

I do not want to make jibes at other political parties in what has otherwise been a non-partisan debate, even if those parties are not represented in the Chamber today. In Edinburgh we have now seen a cross-party consensus on cycling policies. Although it is true that our Labour colleagues on the council made a commitment to increase the spending on cycling year on year, it is being done now with the support of the minority party in the Edinburgh council coalition, the Scottish National party. So let us hope that the SNP at Scottish Government level will follow the example of its colleagues on Edinburgh council.

As has been mentioned a few times in the debate, some of those who organised the Pedal on Parliament campaign to lobby the Scottish Parliament had personal experience of death and serious injury to cyclists on our roads. The increase in deaths and serious injuries to cyclists in England over the past five years has been replicated in Scotland. We have seen a similar increase over the past five years. Let us not forget that as well as being in every case a personal tragedy for the families and friends of those involved, every cycling death or serious injury has the effect of discouraging people who might otherwise come back to cycling, because they do not realise the wider relative or absolute safety of cycling compared with most forms of transport.

There are many reasons why it is vital to have targets to bring down the toll of death and serious injury to cyclists on our roads, and I have no doubt that if the measures proposed in the “Get Britain Cycling” report were implemented, they would dramatically reduce the number of cyclists killed and injured on our roads.