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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 7:25 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Simon Danczuk Simon Danczuk Labour, Rochdale 7:25 pm, 2nd September 2013

I am pleased to follow my right hon. Friend Mr Bradshaw. I thank the all-party parliamentary cycling group for this excellent report and for securing this debate.

I am speaking in this debate not just because many of my constituents have urged me to take part, but because I believe I bring a particular perspective to it as a recent convert to cycling. Hon. Friends have advised me that Dr Wollaston might have had to inform me in advance that she was going to describe me in the Chamber—as middle-aged, overweight and desperately attempting to get back in shape. That is, indeed, one of the reasons why I took up cycling.

As the report says,

“Britain needs to re-learn how to cycle.”

That is exactly what I have been doing, by cycling on holiday in Holland. I have holidayed with my family in Holland for the last five years, and learned much more about cycling for leisure purposes. That has encouraged me, but before I started cycling again, I must admit that I shared the disregard for cyclists that many people have. It was a wholly inappropriate view, but I admit to having had it. The report makes it clear that we need to change our attitudes towards cyclists, and I am one of those who was guilty of needing to do so before I started cycling again.

I will not rehearse all the arguments about why it is beneficial to cycle in Holland or issues relating to segregation, prioritising cyclists and all the rest of it. Another important point—my hon. Friend Ian Austin referred to this—is that many more cyclists in Holland are also drivers, and many more drivers are also cyclists. Much greater priority is therefore given to cyclists.