I am extremely grateful to have the chance to speak this evening about the importance of cycling and, more specifically, the Gilligan report. Oxford is famous for being a cycling city. In fact, one of the first early-day motions I tabled following my election was to congratulate the city on its newfound cycling city status and ambitions. That said, it is fair to say that I am a fair-weather cyclist. I use an electric bike with a very pretty basket, and I usually cycle in a skirt and rarely in the rain. One could therefore rightly ask why I decided to become a vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on cycling. Well, I did that not because I am not a Lycra-clad, cycling fanatic, but because I am exactly the type of person whom we need to encourage out of the car and into the saddle. While cycling may not be great for my hair, it is brilliant for my health and the environment, and anything that I can do to encourage others to join me is a good use of my time.
Of course, the catalyst for this debate has been the publication this summer of the “Running Out of Road: Investing in Cycling in Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford” report by former London cycling tsar Andrew Gilligan, as part of the National Infrastructure Commission. The report is incredibly welcome. At its heart is a recommendation for £150 million of investment in cycling in Oxford to realise the ambition for a “C change”—a cycling change—with an increase in cycling journeys and a reduction in congestion.
Securing substantially increased funding for cycling in Oxfordshire is key to truly integrating cycling into all local transport and planning projects, to ensuring that cycling provision is ambitious and designed to a high standard, and to ensuring that cycling is integral to other transport networks—my goodness that is not the case at the moment—rather than being isolated or an afterthought.