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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 9:02 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Alan Reid Alan Reid Liberal Democrat, Argyll and Bute 9:02 pm, 2nd September 2013

I congratulate my hon. Friend Dr Huppert on introducing the debate, and all members of the all-party cycling group on their excellent report, “Get Britain Cycling”. I support the report’s recommendations, in particular for an annual cycling action plan and for sustained funding for cycling.

Liberal Democrats have long recognised the positive benefits of cycling. It assists in tackling road congestion, reducing air pollution and supporting our economy. Not only is it a fast, cheap and green mode of transport, it promotes a healthier lifestyle too. It is a sobering fact that only 2% of journeys in the UK are made by bicycle. Our European neighbours put us to shame in this regard. It is also important to note that approximately half of all journeys made by car are only a few miles. Surely we can encourage people to make some of those journeys by bike. I am pleased that targets are included in the motion, and I hope that the Government adopt them.

In 2010, the gross contribution of cycling to the UK economy was almost £3 billion. According to calculations, if we encourage more people to cycle we could save the UK economy a few hundred million pounds through reduced road congestion and about £70 million to £80 million through less pollution.

My hon. Friend Norman Baker, the Minister for cycling, has been a champion of cycling for many years. I am pleased that he has continued that attitude in government and done a good job supporting cycling. For example, last March the Department for Transport published its door-to-door strategy, which set out how the Government are encouraging people to combine different methods of transport in their journeys and increase the number of journeys made by bicycle. In April, my hon. Friend the Minister for cycling announced £40 million of funding, which is being used at 78 locations to make roads and junctions safer for cyclists. All those schemes are due to be completed within 12 months.

In August, the coalition Government announced a dramatic boost for cycling funding. The Prime Minister showed the Government’s commitment by making the announcement himself, which represents the biggest ever single cash injection for cycling. The Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for more people to be able to ride out with confidence on our nation’s roads. This Government are a good supporter of cycling. However, we cannot afford to be complacent on this issue. The all-party group’s report offers us the chance to support cycling and ensure that the Government continue to work hard to promote the needs and safety of cyclists, alongside those of other road users. I wholeheartedly support today’s motion. I hope the Government will build on the good work they have already done by taking forward the report’s recommendations.