Cycling: Gilligan Report

Part of Civil Liability Bill [Lords] (Money) – in the House of Commons at 10:11 pm on 4th September 2018.

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Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 10:11 pm, 4th September 2018

That is absolutely right. I would not have expected a man geographically located as my hon. Friend is to fail to pick up the linkages. The fascinating point here is that, although some things are being funded at the moment through energies at a civic level, there are opportunities nevertheless—and we have seen this through other pots of funding—for smaller authorities to take the opportunities that this whole sequence of events requires, but they have to step forward. One thing that we are trying to do with our local cycling and walking infrastructure plans is to reward and encourage local authorities that are prepared to think creatively and constructively about these opportunities in the way that they take these things forward.

It is important to say that I personally am very strongly committed to increasing cycling and walking and making our roads safer for vulnerable uses, and of course that includes cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and the rest. When the cycling and walking investment strategy was launched in April 2017, it was an attempt to gather together and create a coherence out of a wide range of existing pots, the purpose being to proclaim an ambition to make cycling and walking a natural choice for short journeys or, indeed, as part of a longer one. Interestingly, the Gilligan report says that there are many advantages to cycling, as the hon. Members for Oxford West and Abingdon and for Cambridge have mentioned. Cycling always brings cheaper travel, better health, better air quality, increased productivity, increased footfall in shops, better community and lower congestion, and it creates vibrant and attractive places and communities. These are all things that Andrew Gilligan recognises in his report.

It is striking that Andrew Gilligan’s report rams home the point that cycling is a serious mode in all these cities, particularly in Oxford and Cambridge—less so in Milton Keynes, although the figures are rising—but he says that it is not taken seriously enough. It has been suggested that the Government do not take cycling seriously enough, which I certainly do not think is true; we take cycling very seriously. The report also points to the importance of local leadership. Now, Oxford has a growth deal and Cambridge has a city deal, so there is plenty of scope for those local authorities to continue to show leadership in responding to the kind of challenges that have been articulated by Andrew Gilligan in his report.