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I am grateful to have the opportunity to speak in the debate and very pleased that the Backbench Business Committee could find the time for it. It follows a very successful and over-subscribed debate in Westminster Hall last year and perhaps illustrates the point that very over-subscribed debates in Westminster Hall can transfer to the main Chamber and attract even more speakers, as today’s debate has done.
I speak as an occasional cyclist daughter of a serious veteran road-racing cyclist father. I want to talk today about London in particular and some of the measures that have been adopted here.
I will first say a bit about why cycling is so important in my constituency. There was an enormous reaction last year in Battersea to The Times “Cities Fit for Cycling” campaign. The average age of people who live in Wandsworth is 32, so that is probably also typical of my constituency. Many people cycle to work and for pleasure, and from quite a wide demographic range, although I agree about the need to widen it, which will set up a virtuous circle. As an occasional cyclist, I know that it can be very off-putting to go into a cycling shop with an old bike and hear three young men in Lycra leaning against the counter saying, “Poor old girl”—I am never quite sure whether they are talking about me or the bike. I encourage all cycling shops to remember that they will do better if they are open for business to everybody, including those who might not be such serious cyclists.