The Get Britain Cycling recommendations received unanimous support from Parliament with around 100 MPs attending last night’s four hour long Parliamentary debate on cycling – the best ever attended on the issue in living memory.
The report’s key recommendations – including putting cycling at the heart of transport policy, sustained investment of at least £10 per head, improving HGV safety, reviewing the justice system and appointing a national cycling champion – were all debated at length and speeches were made by over 70 MPs.
"For decades, governments have not done enough to support cycling, and while the steps taken by this government are welcome, particularly the support from the Cycling Minister Norman Baker, there is far more still to do."
Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling, Julian Huppert MP
Commenting on the debate, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling, Julian Huppert MP, who proposed the motion said:
“For decades, governments have not done enough to support cycling, and while the steps taken by this government are welcome, particularly the support from the Cycling Minister Norman Baker, there is far more still to do. This Government should do more to implement our recommendations, and I would like all parties to adopt these recommendations for their next manifestos. My own party, the Liberal Democrats, will be discussing this at our party conference in two weeks.
We need year-on-year funding and a change of mind-set to put cycling at the forefront of planning and design if we are to see real change. The time has come for governments and all politicians to move from warm words to action.”
Ian Austin MP, the other Co-Chair said:
“Last night was an incredible moment for cycling in this country. This fact that over 100 MPs attended to highlight the issues that matter to their constituents shows the massive impact that cycling is having in this country. This debate was tremendously supported and shows the consensus on this issue across all parties.
We should use the inquiry and the debate to drive cycling up the agenda. Let us make cycling an election issue, with local cyclists getting candidates to sign pledges and with the parties competing to produce the best manifesto for cycling. Let us continue the campaign to get Britain cycling.”
Another theme that emerged from last night’s debate was the need for cross-government collaboration so that all departments are committed to the same action plan. Holland, Denmark and Germany were all cited as examples of where governments are getting it right. The UK government’s recent £77 million funding announcement was welcomed but MPs said the level of funding should be sustained over more than two years and that it should go to all areas rather than just the eight successful cities.
Implementing 20mph speed limits was also raised as an issue. Dr Sarah Wollaston MP said: “We need to completely change our priorities in relation to speed to get as many people cycling as possible.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Maria Eagle MP, last night launched Labour’s eight point plan on cycling, including a commitment to look at minimum standards for HGV safety requirements. “It's time to end the stop-start approach that is getting in the way of progress and agree a cross-party, long-term commitment to cycling,” Eagle said.
Speaking for the government, Transport Minister, Norman Baker MP, talked MPs through the government’s response to the Get Britain Cycling report, saying: “I believe that we have the most pro-cycling Government that the country has ever had, and we are determined to go even further. Cycling is good for the environment, good for individual health, and good for the economy. It is good for the environment, because it cuts carbon emissions, noise and air pollution… This government takes cycling very seriously and will make further progress”
The Get Britain Cycling inquiry’s report, published on 24 April, made several recommendations for the government, including endorsing a target of 10 per cent of all journeys to be made by bike by 2025, and 25 per cent by 2050; and calls on the government to show strong political leadership, including an annual Cycle Action Plan and sustained funding for cycling of at least £10 per head.
For more information about the Get Britain Cycling inquiry, visit: http://allpartycycling.org/