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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 7:01 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Sarah Wollaston Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes 7:01 pm, 2nd September 2013

I am sorry, but if my hon. Friend will forgive me, I have taken two interventions.

In my area, the South Devon Railway, which was given a bridge that was built half with public money, has treated the River Dart as though it were some kind of moat and has prevented the sharing of that bridge. Such situations are simply unacceptable. That bridge must be the only one in Devon that keeps communities apart rather than brings them together. I call on the South Devon Railway and those involved in all such examples around the country to recognise that they have an opportunity to increase the sum of human happiness. In Totnes, the South Devon Railway has an opportunity to create a link that would join up the national cycle network and, in so doing, increase the footfall for its business. I think we all recognise that cycling has enormous benefits beyond health, with economic benefits for communities. I hope that the South Devon Railway will listen to this debate and take a generous step forward by helping us to create that link.

I would like to deal briefly with the issue of cycle helmets, which has been brought up today. I agree with Mr Bradshaw that the trouble with making them compulsory would be a net reduction in cycling. Of course, it is sensible for anyone who has a helmet to wear it, but what would happen to the wonderful Boris bikes scheme in London if we made the wearing of them compulsory? No one would use it. Yes, if people have a helmet, they should wear it, but they should not be put off if they do not. Most important, they should not feel that they need special kit. Cycling is for everyone. The statistics show that it will make us live longer and be happier, so let us remember the joys of cycling. Let us get Britain cycling and find the money to make that happen.