MPs from all political parties discussed investment in cycling in Britain in a debate on Wednesday
- British Cycling and CTC campaigners give their reaction


Cycling continues to grow as a key political subject, with MPs from all political parties converging for a debate on cycling investment in Britain on Wednesday, February 3.

Although investment in cycling infrastructure in Britain is slowly increasing, the consensus is that much more could be done before it reaches a satisfactory level.

Both British Cycling and the CTC welcomed the debate, but said that there is still a long way to go until the government instates per-head funding that will make cycling a safe activity and mode of transport in Britain.

“Today’s Westminster Hall debate on government investment in cycling illustrated how much progress has been made in recent years,” said Martin Key, British Cycling’s campaigns manager.

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“Cycling didn’t have much political attention in the past and rare debates like these would be poorly attended and often missed the point. Today, we have MPs from all parties and all across the UK representing the very real concerns of their constituents and British Cycling’s 117,000 members – namely that the vast majority of people actively want to use their bikes more often, but are put off by concerns about safety.

“A clear message was sent to government today that more investment is needed in segregated infrastructure to make our roads and junctions safer. Does this amount to the kind of political will to deliver the ‘cycling revolution’ promised by the Prime Minister? No. Is it a step forward? Yes. We will keep the pressure on.”

CTC policy director, Roger Geffen aired similar sentiments to that of his counterpart at British Cycling, saying: “It’s heartening that once again MPs from across the political spectrum have spoken up for the investment needed to make cycling a safe and normal activity for grandparents and grandchildren, male and female alike.

“I hope the government will now listen, find the funding, and put in place the design standards needed to ensure it is well spent.”

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The debate was called by Conservative MP for Bolton West, Chris Green.

“It is important to point out that the benefits of cycling reach across many different areas,” said Green in his opening address. “There is a strong business and economic case for both local and national Government to invest in cycling.

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“Sustrans has calculated that investment in cycling returns the equivalent of £9.76 for every £1 spent. Cycling also alleviates congestion and will help us cope with the forecast pressure on our roads due to population growth, particularly in northern cities—current estimates suggest a 55 per cent increase in road congestion by 2040.

“Cyclescheme estimates that the national health service could save £2.5 billion if 10 per cent of car journeys were made by bicycle instead, and that inactivity costs the United Kingdom economy £20 billion every year.”

A full transcript of the debate is available online.

  • Trefor Jones

    The easiest way of increasing safety for cyclist in towns and cities is to ban all lorries and trucks over 3.5tonnes from traveling through such places between the times of 07:00 to 09:30 each morning and similarly from 16:30 thru’ 19:00 during the evening. It may bring howls of protests from business but they could adjust without it actually costing them money because less congestion means faster turnaround times and less fuel consumption from presently being stuck in traffic. Further consideration should be given to simply banning all cars in key central locations equivalent to say 5 square miles in central London and major cities for the same time periods. As more than 95% of all London commuters do so by tube, train and bus the actual disruption would be insignificant and peoples general health and fitness would improve.

  • AdamReynolds

    We’ve tried education for the last 50 years, whereas the one country that decided to go for good infrastructure is reaping massive benefits. However the only way people get educated is to cycle and get why you need to give space.

    A simple solution would be to get a driving licence you would need to do Bikeability Level 3 training.

    However you’re still not going to persuade parents to let their kids cycle to school on our roads without segregation.

  • Stevie

    The chances of having completely segregated lanes that offer a reasonable route from more than one estate to a school or workplace are very slight and would cost a ridiculous amount of money. the infrastructure isn’t there and its probably to late to be implemented in most areas for it to be effective.

    I’ve cycled abroad in a few different countries and the only changed I have noticed is not within infrastructure but in the attitudes of drivers. Segregation should be implemented within and around major cities or on major roads. But education is a cheaper and longer lasting alternative.

  • AdamReynolds

    Because the people cycling now are cycling despite the conditions. You want a parent to happily let their 9 year old child get on a bike and cycle to school. When you reach that level of “safety” THEN you get modal shift. You get people making a conscious choice to leave their cars behind and get on a bike to do a 3 mile trip.

    It also doesn’t help that we let people off leniently when they hit or kill a cyclist/pedestrian. We need to be putting people in jail for manslaughter not 6 points and £150 fine for driving without due care and attention.

    It is why segregation is absolutely key. Segregation does not mean sharing space with pedestrians. It means, identifying major routes, removing all on-street parking, installing protected cycle tracks and then re-installing parking if there is still space.

  • J1

    Not all of Europe is like that though. Some of the Dutch are surprisingly awful drivers, it’s a good job the cyclists are on separate lanes.

  • Stevie

    ‘A clear message was sent to government today that more investment is needed in segregated infrastructure to make our roads and junctions safer.’

    Why not just educate motorist better during driving lessons. It may have been 9 or so years since I passed my test but I cant remember any of my practical or theory test highlighting how to drive/ act around cyclist. Having segregated lanes just reinforces the view of some motorist who believe we shouldn’t be sharing ‘their’ roads.

  • Tony Cooper

    Its culture and accepted in Europe. Brain dead britain is brain dead britain, there is little you can do. Drop your car in Dover in secure parking, take 2-3 weeks cycling abroad and have white van men and articulated trucks giving you space, come back to this backward country and have 3 cars wanting to kill you in dover within 2 miles of your car. Its a cultural thing that you and Wiggo will never change