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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 9:17 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Jason McCartney Jason McCartney Conservative, Colne Valley 9:17 pm, 2nd September 2013

As one of the panel members of the all-party parliamentary cycling group’s report “Get Britain Cycling”, I am delighted to take part in today’s debate. I am delighted, too, because I am undertaking the parliamentary sports fellowship with British Cycling for the coming year.

I fully support the report’s aims, especially the target to have 10% of all journeys made by bike by 2025 and 25% by the year 2050. The motion also calls for the Government to show strong political leadership, including an annual cycling action plan and sustained funding for cycling. I would particularly like to welcome the latest Government action, which includes making it easier for councils to install cycle facilities, cycle proofing of road infrastructure and stumping up £148 million of new funding between now and 2015.

In fact, along with my right hon. Friend the Secretary State for Transport, I was at the headquarters of the Peak District national park over the summer, hearing about its ambitious plans to improve and encourage cycling there. As part of that national park is in my constituency, I was delighted to hear that cycling in the park is being given a £7.5 million boost to enhance the cycle trail network. This will put an estimated 3.5 million people within reach of the Peak District national park cycle network, either by bike or following just a short train ride.

Cycling has gone ballistic in my part of West Yorkshire. My personal passion began with a series of country-wide charity bike rides with Huddersfield Town football club. The “Keep it Up” campaign has raised just short of £1 million for the Yorkshire air ambulance, as hundreds of Huddersfield Town fans have been sponsored to cycle to and from opposing teams’ football grounds. Well done to all of them!

The Grand Départ will go through my constituency on Sunday 6 July next year. A huge number of cyclists are already out on the route, B and Bs are booked up, and cycling-related festivals and events are being planned. The Government are backing the Tour de France in Yorkshire with £10 million of funding. However, there will not be just one day of the Tour in Yorkshire, because there is now a legacy project called “Get Yorkshire Cycling”—a 10-year strategy which will unlock potential in the fields of health, the economy, the environment, transport, tourism and community engagement.

As well as investment, cycling safety is paramount, and has been foremost in the minds of many people in my constituency this summer. John Radford of Meltham is a popular cycling champion, but he is now fighting for his life following a collision with a car. He suffered severe head injuries and had to be airlifted to Leeds general infirmary, where he remains critically ill. John is chairman of Huddersfield and District cyclists’ touring club, and has been working tirelessly to promote cycling locally and nationally.

Cycling is a community. Last month I joined 200 of John’s friends to take part in a six-mile ride to show our support and help to raise cash for the Yorkshire air ambulance, which flew him to hospital. The ride was organised by Councillor Martyn Bolt, the mayor of Kirklees. I know that all Members will want to send their best wishes to John and his family.