Active Travel — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:58 am on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West 9:58 am, 9th July 2019

I congratulate my hon. Friend Robert Courts on securing this important debate. I would put cycling and walking into two broad categories.

First, there are established areas where we need to enhance and improve the facilities. We sometimes see green paint slapped on the ground to mark out a cycle lane, but that does nothing for the cyclist—it does not improve safety or their ability to navigate those roads. We have to be cautious about a council or an area being able to claim that they have more and more miles of cycle tracks when those tracks are of almost no value.

As my hon. Friend Andrew Selous mentioned, often those tracks stop and start, which is of no value to the cyclist who wants to carry on their journey. It would be far better to focus on repairing potholes. That is what many people on their bicycles would like—smooth, open roads where they can carry on cycling.

There are opportunities in new developments. The largest housing development in Greater Manchester, the Horwich loco works, of 1,700 houses, almost connects Horwich town centre with Horwich Parkway railway station. That should have been a wonderful opportunity to connect the town centre to its local railway station with a superb walking and cycling route. There was a master plan for that development, but it included zero information about cycling or walking. We hear national Government, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and our town or borough council leadership talking about their ambitions for cycling and walking, yet in the plan for the largest single housing development in Greater Manchester of 1,700 houses, there were no details about cycling and walking. There is a huge mismatch between that and what some people say about this important agenda.

We want more people to cycle and walk, for the obvious reasons that have been given: it is better not just for physical but mental health, and we want people to have active lifestyles and be more part of the community. However, those ambitions must link up to the reality on the ground. I am pleased that Bolton Council will, under its new leadership, form a liaison group with the local community and Horwich loco works to make sure the development has the interests of local people at heart. I will champion the cause of cycling and walking.