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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 7:40 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Labour, Tottenham 7:40 pm, 2nd September 2013

The hon. Lady makes a good point. Those people are getting on bikes for cost-saving reasons, but they are doing so in towns and cities, where the prioritisation we need on cycling is not there. The resulting deaths and serious injuries should be of great concern.

Nearly half of all car journeys made in London are fewer than 2 miles long. That is an easily bikeable distance, so we have to ask why so many people are not choosing to bike. As the hon. Lady indicated, in London alone more than 500 cyclists were seriously injured in just one year, which is a rise of 22% on the previous year’s figure. It is right that the current Mayor has done much to encourage cycling in London, and he should be congratulated on getting behind cycling. His appointment of a cycling tsar has also been very important, but targets for reducing cycle casualties have been consistently missed. The number of cycling casualties in London has increased every year since 2008, which is only partly explained by the cycling participation rates. Nationally, 122 cyclists were killed on British roads last year. So road accidents are still proportionately involving cycling, despite the incidence of other road accidents falling. That issue has to be addressed and it can be done only if we challenge the culture of cycling and do not have a transport policy that sometimes feels like just a motorists’ policy. We need a policy that is prepared to put both pedestrians and cyclists alongside motorists.

Remarks have been made about the share of investment in cycling. Those remarks need to be taken seriously if we are to get the shift that the Minister has said he wants and that I suspect he will say he wants, as it feels a long way off for those of us who want cycling to get up to where it needs to be. Investment and participation campaigns are crucial, but they will go only so far. Ministers must treat British roads as existing not just for cars, but for cyclists. Much greater priority also needs to be put on safety, which means proper investment in cycling paths, borough to borough, road to road, and new radical solutions that promote cycling.

I welcome this debate, although it is only really the very beginning on this subject. I hope that the House will return to it, but I hope that we will see the step change that we need in this country over the coming months.