Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 6:18 pm on 2nd September 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 6:18 pm, 2nd September 2013

I will not take any more interventions, because I want to allow everybody else to speak.

Given the benefits of cycling to the economy and the huge savings it could bring to the NHS, there could be huge benefits in the long run. Cyclists are fitter and healthier than the population as a whole and less of a demand on the NHS, so will the Minister say why the Department of Health, which has a budget of £1 billion, last week committed just £1 million to cycling over the next two years? Making cycling safer in local residential streets would also help. That is why our report calls for lower speed limits in urban areas. The campaign by The Times calls for 20 mph to be the default limit in residential areas that do not have cycle lanes.

The Government need to ensure that cycling provision and safety are considered at the outset of all major developments. That is the central point in British Cycling’s road safety manifesto. I am therefore pleased that the shadow Secretary of State is committed to the introduction of new cycle safety assessments for all new transport schemes. Given that local roads and planning are the responsibility of local councils, it is a shame that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has indulged in populist calls for councils to ignore cycling and to do more to help motorists.

I am a cyclist and a motorist. Most of us are both. In fact, cyclists are more likely to own a car than the general population, so let us have no more of the cheap, populist nonsense that tries to set drivers against cyclists. We should all be working together to improve safety on the roads.

Finally, this debate is just the next stage of our campaign to get Britain cycling. We should use the inquiry and today’s debate to drive cycling up the agenda. It is fantastic that so many MPs are here for this debate on the first day back when there is a one-line Whip. Let us make cycling an election issue, with local cyclists getting candidates to sign pledges and with the parties competing to produce the best manifesto for cycling. Let us continue the campaign to get Britain cycling.