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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 6:52 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Labour, Poplar and Limehouse 6:52 pm, 2nd September 2013

It is a pleasure to follow Mike Thornton. I congratulate my hon. Friend Ian Austin and Dr Huppert, the co-chairs of the all-party group, of which I am a member, on the report. It is sponsored by The Times, which I congratulate too. I should declare that The Times is still in Wapping in my constituency, so there is a little bit of self-interest there. Other national newspapers—The Guardian and The Independenthave been trying to catch up and are supporting the campaign. My comments will be made as a Londoner and as a London cyclist, and will not necessarily reflect issues in other parts of the country.

I invited my constituents, through the social media of Twitter, Facebook and the East London Advertiser,to contribute to the debate by raising issues that they thought I might want to mention. I was staggered by the response—more than 50 people e-mailed or tweeted issues that are of importance to them. I am very limited for time and cannot name them all, but I will list some of them. Before doing that, I want to thank the cycle firms in my constituency, in particular Bikeworks, a social entrepreneurial group that does great work and made a running repair to my bike in half an hour last Wednesday morning to get me back on the road, and also Halfords and Evans, which are national organisations that support cycling in Tower Hamlets and in the community.

I will run through the list of issues raised by my constituents: keeping cycle routes clear when there are roadworks and parking problems; cycle superhighways not being up to the necessary standard—my hon. Friend Rushanara Ali raised the incident of the Aldgate East fatality—with just a coat of paint on a road and nothing more; and lower speed limits, an issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley North. Cycle training and education in schools was mentioned by several hon. Members. That is critical. I am doing an Industry and Parliament Trust Fellowship on logistics. I spent some time with TNT, which trains its postal delivery people to ride bikes. When they have down time, they partner local schools to train the kids there. If TNT can do it, the question to the Minister is this: is Royal Mail doing it? There must be other companies out there that could contribute, too.