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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

If I have time at the end I will certainly give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I want to get through the points raised by my constituents.

The last two negatives raised related to fatalities and punishment to fit the crime. We all hear tragic stories from constituents about punishments that do not fit the crime. On the conversion of wider pavements, Boris Johnson certainly has that in London, particularly on the Embankment.

What I find fascinating is the counter-culture that comes through from my cyclist constituents. They complained about bad cycling behaviour and said that the cycle demographic in our country is mainly young, white, aggressive and male. That is why we do not “go Dutch” and why many people are put off cycling: they see a race track and do not want to join it. We need to address that problem, and the only way we are going to do so is through enforcement against those who cross red lights and pedestrian crossings.

People complained about cyclists who disregard the rules by wearing earphones; running red lights; crashing pedestrian crossings; not signalling whether they are turning left or right; not warning when they are overtaking; riding on pavements; using mobile phones; speeding on the Thames path; not ringing to alert pedestrians or other cyclists that they are overtaking on tow paths; swearing at pedestrians—some cyclists, like some drivers, think that they are entitled to a free run at the road; not dismounting in foot tunnels; not having lights; not having bells and not wearing high-visibility clothing. Cyclists are not perfect. We have to give a lead to cyclists to say, “We should show a better example in the way we behave, to ensure that drivers behave in the way we want them to.”

In conclusion, my wife Sheila and I visited Amsterdam and Copenhagen recently. There is less racing, more sensible cycling and a much wider demographic; there is a different culture. We must have that more varied cycling demographic in our country. My hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State recently asked two questions of the Government. First, why do we have annual road and rail budgets to 2021, but not one for cycling? Secondly, why do we not have cycle safety assessments, similar to economic and equality impact assessments, for all road schemes?

My final question is about something that is raised in the report—I am not quite clear about the Government’s response—which said that we should have champions.