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We all benefit from improving the take-up of cycling. To quote the president of the Automobile Association, Edmund King:
“Implementation of the Get Britain Cycling recommendations would bring tangible business and economic benefits by reducing congestion, absenteeism, NHS costs and by producing a more creative and active workforce.”
There speaks the voice of the automobile, and I entirely agree with him.
Despite these benefits, Governments for decades have not sufficiently supported cycling. There has been massive investment in road infrastructure, but little for cycling; cyclists have often had small-scale provision, if any. Individual Ministers have tried, but they have not always received the support they need. I pay great tribute in particular to the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend Norman Baker, who I believe is the longest ever serving Minister with responsibility for cycling. However, he is not able to deliver as much as he or I would like. He has done things such as announce extra money over the summer for the local sustainable transport fund, but we need more and it needs to be sustained.
Many Ministers face a culture that points the other way—that focuses on car drivers only, to the detriment of others and without realising that fewer cyclists will result in more cars on the roads. I hope that one of the outcomes of our report and this debate will be to provide support for Ministers of all parties who want to make that difference—to turn welcome comments, such as those made by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, into reality.