Positive signs from Westminster Hall debate - but more government action and funding on cycling needed

Positive signs from Westminster Hall debate - but more government action and funding on cycling needed

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British Cycling campaigns manager Martin Key recaps and reflects upon Wednesday 3 February's Westminster Hall debate into goverment investment into cycling.

“It is vital to have investment in cycling and to include it as part of an effective transport policy,” said Chris Green MP for Bolton West (Conservative), echoing calls by British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling Network of businesses whose members employ over half a million people.

“The case for cycling is not some ill-thought out, muddle-headed notion; it is hard-headed, practical and robust,” said Alex Chalk MP for Cheltenham (Conservative) in his speech during the Westminster Hall debate on government investment in cycling.

The two speeches from Conservatives summed up a new confidence amongst MPs to position cycling alongside other transport issues traditionally seen as something that government ‘does’.

Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge (Labour) made reference to the expected drop in funding outside of London to less than £1.40 per head when he said; “There is a real danger that the government are drawing up an investment strategy with no investment.”

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth (Labour ) said: “To increase cycling, we need to see not only financial investment from the government, but investment in political leadership and policy development and the setting of a good example."

In response, Robert Goodwill MP, minister of state for transport said: “In future, long-term funding will be available from a wide range of sources… That means that everywhere that wishes to invest £10 per head will be able to.”

Verdict

The fact that so many MPs made the case for investment in cycling so well is a reflection of how far politicians have come. There is genuine pressure on the government from MPs – not based on party agendas or point scoring, but on a solid business case for cycling and the benefits it communities can harness.

MPs can play a vital role in holding the government to account to its promises. Unfortunately, despite some good commitments, the government still has a long way to go. The repeated lack of specifics from ministers is deeply concerning and, despite clear recommendations that a meaningful and long-term funding line is needed to reverse decades of poor transport planning, this is still lacking. 

Record breaking

Chris Green MP secured yesterday’s debate which was very well attended compared to other Westminster Hall debates.

This was helped by British Cycling members contacting their MPs to ask them to attend and a Twitter debate 24 hours before which reached more than 2.1 million Twitter accounts, the highest number ever for a House of Commons’ digital debate. It improved the quality of the debate and demonstrates that the voices of our members will be heard at the highest levels.