Active Travel — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:52 am on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire 9:52 am, 9th July 2019

Cycling is a big part of the answer to the major issues that we are looking at across the House: climate change, congestion, pollution, obesity, poor physical health, poor mental health and social and economic exclusion. I am very excited about the possibilities offered by electric bikes, particularly for older people. For those who are frail or in poor health, who have longer journeys, who need to commute and look reasonably smart when they arrive, as my hon. Friend Robert Courts mentioned, and who live at the top of a hill, as I do, electric bikes are part of the solution.

I want this country to be world leading in cycling; I do not want us just to inch up the rankings. In the Netherlands, 25% of people cycle, while in Germany the figure is 10%. In the UK, only 2% cycle. Let us get to the head of the pack, not just improve a bit. We all know that it makes sense. To that end, every new housing estate that we build in this country should have cycle paths connected to the local schools and employment areas. When people get to those places, there must be enough parking for their bikes; it is not just motorists who need parking. If people cannot park securely and safely, or wash and freshen up if they need to when they arrive, they will not cycle in the numbers that we want.

I look forward to Central Bedfordshire Council completing the “green wheel” around Leighton Buzzard in my constituency. We have spent money on cycle paths, but they run out. When they come to a busy road, they just stop, and they are not as connected as they should be. We also need to ensure that when we build new roads, we put in cycling infrastructure, because it is much more expensive to retrofit later. Cycling needs to hold its own in business cases. I was concerned to hear about a recent road scheme from which the cycle scheme was taken out because it was viewed as a problem, and it was thought that it would reduce the power of the business case. That is nonsense. It is wrong and should not happen.

I hope that the Department for Transport’s review will be completed well before the comprehensive spending review, and will provide the evidence that we need to get the necessary increase in funding. We also want fairness and equity of funding. It is not right that only 46 council areas get extra money. This matters in the constituency of every hon. Member in the Chamber, right across the country. We need fairness and equity to ensure that every part of the country benefits from the coming cycling revolution.