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

As I said, Oxford already has a growth deal. There is considerable scope within that to allocate funds to cycling if the local authority so wishes. I have not met this cycling champion; I did not know of the Oxford cycling champion’s existence, so they might not have been quite as high profile as Oxford might like. However, they are welcome to come and talk to me about their priorities, and we can discuss them as I have done with metro Mayors and other key figures around the country in this area. The hon. Lady focuses on Oxford—and rightly so—but it is also important to mention Milton Keynes as well as Cambridge, as this report covers all three areas.

According to the 2016 Active Lives survey, the local authorities with the highest prevalence of adults cycling at least once a week were Cambridge at 54%, followed by Oxford at 37% and then South Cambridgeshire. The figures compare to a national average of 11.9%, so these are vanguard authorities that are thinking about how they can take their measures forward.

From a Government standpoint, I have talked about the growth in city deals, but it is also important to flag that, in addition to the moneys that were discussed in 2017—since the strategy was launched—the Department has also announced considerable amounts of additional funding potentially available. This includes the £1.7 million transforming cities fund, of which, as the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon will know, £250 million has been provided for Manchester, of which £160 million will be used for the Chris Boardman cycling and walking scheme. We are providing £77 million for local road schemes that support cycling and walking projects through the national productivity investment fund, £30 million to improve road and cycle safety for cyclists and pedestrians along the HS2 route and £220 million of capital and revenue funding through the clean air fund of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The hon. Lady rightly asked how this all pans out. The answer is that these pots of money are available for different authorities to bid for; as they bid for them, so the allocations are made. It is impossible to say in advance what the allocations will be, but we can give a retrospective account of the funds that have been delivered. It is important to try to balance a national strategy with specific opportunities to improve and respond to local leadership in particular areas.

Colleagues know that I take cycle safety and the safety of vulnerable road users extremely seriously. The point made by Andrew Gilligan and by the hon. Lady—a point that has been made many, many times—is the importance not merely of improving safety, but of doing so through segregated infrastructure, and that is a very well taken point. One does not have to look at all far—even in this country, let alone to the countries of Europe that are very advanced in terms of cycling—to see the effect.

Earlier this year, we published a call for evidence on cycling and walking safety. We have had 13,000 responses, and the Department will publish a summary of those shortly. Before the end of the year, I plan to set out the final findings from the review. A lot of attention is focused on some changes we are making to the treatment of offences by cyclists, but the focus of the review, overwhelmingly, will be on improving safety of cyclists and pedestrians and on setting the terms for an expansion of cycling and walking, to combat some of the concerns about obesity and air quality that we have described.

It is important to recognise that even without that, the Department has taken an important wide range of interim steps. We have given over £7 million of funding to local authorities to support safety improvements, including over £500,000-worth of improvements to the Fendon Road roundabout in Cambridge. We have launched a new UK-wide initiative to help the police to crack down on close passing, which we have taken seriously in central Government for the first time. We have announced a £1 million sponsorship agreement between the Bikeability Trust and Halfords. We are taking measures to improve standards for infrastructure and to incorporate guidance on close passing into the Highway Code, as well as supporting pathfinder projects to upgrade the national cycle network. There is a wide range of different measures, with much of the focus on infrastructure, but obviously we would like to go considerably further.

I am very pleased that £18 million of Cambridge’s city deal funding since 2015 has been spent on new cycling infrastructure, with a further £50 million committed to 2021. Cambridge and Oxford—alas, not Milton Keynes—are among the eight cities that the Government have supported through the £191 million Cycle Ambition Cities programme. That shows our desire to reinforce the success that they have had and to try to give additional support. In thinking about this kind of infrastructure development, we have tried to respond to specific initiatives. Oxfordshire County Council has put forward a proposal entitled, “Oxfordshire Innovation Corridor”, which will receive a lot of attention. We take these issues very seriously. I congratulate the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon on calling this debate.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.