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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 9:25 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Conservative, Macclesfield 9:25 pm, 2nd September 2013

That subject has been well debated today. There are pros and cons, but the overwhelming suggestion from people here is that if we make helmets compulsory, fewer people will cycle. We are trying to say, “Let’s get people cycling.” This is not about having a health and safety-fest; it is about encouraging people to get out cycling and seeing the health and well-being benefits, which are profound. They are also lifelong, unlike those associated with football, rugby or some of the other sports we are keen to support.

The other thing we should note is that cycling also gives a real boost to the local economy, particularly in rural areas. Cycling is vital as it provides revenues for countless B and Bs, guest houses, cafés, pubs and, let us not forget, local cycling shops, which seem to be springing up in many villages. Given those important benefits to tourism, I am delighted to join my hon. Friend Jason McCartney and colleagues from elsewhere in highlighting what the Peak District national park is doing to get more people cycling through its cycling festival, which I believe is taking place next weekend. I have also been out cycling with the Secretary of State for Transport on the Monsal trail. That just shows that he is absolutely committed to, and understands the importance of, cycling.

As co-chair of the all-party group on mountaineering, I am passionate about campaigning to get people out and active outdoors. Normally, this is about getting them out and active on two feet, through the “Britain on Foot” campaign, but I recognise today that it is vital to get people active on two wheels as well. It is fantastic to see the degree of participation in this debate.

I am delighted that the Government are taking action in this area. Many have talked about the important funding for cycling ambition grants, which will have profound benefits for cities such as Manchester and national parks such as the Peak District. I am pleased that more steps are being taken to encourage the setting up of 20 mph speed limit zones and to make it easier for them to be established. However, I was talking to Macclesfield Wheelers and its chairman, Peter McGuckian, earlier today, and there is more that needs to be done. We must improve signage to ensure that people feel safer on the roads when they are out cycling. He also talked about the importance of setting up more advanced stop positions, which are vital for cyclists. He also asked me to urge that motor-related offences against cyclists should be taken much more seriously than they have been in the past.

Let me conclude by focusing on the potential for cycling. My mother is Danish, so I understood the importance of cycling from an early age. For many people it is not just a sport, an outdoor activity or a mode of transport—it is part of people’s lives. There is real potential to make this a way of life that will benefit countless people.