Chris Boardman: MPs should be embarrassed by cycling inquiry

Chris Boardman and Boris Johnson, London, March 2013

Chris Boardman has aired his frustration at the failure of MPs to address the issues of cycle safety during Monday's Transport Select Committee inqury, calling their lack of knowledge 'embarrassing'.

The MPs present in the inqury were there to hear evidence from police, the Mayor of London's office, cycle campaign organisations and transport researchers relating to the recent spate of cyclist fatalities in the capital.

Boardman, who is British Cycling's policy adviser said: "The MPs that sit on the transport select committee should be embarrassed by their performance yesterday in an inquiry that was meant to be about why six people died riding bicycles on London's roads in the space of two weeks.

"In front of them sat experts from campaigning bodies, transport research and the police - all ready to get into a proper discussion - and yet the MPs demonstrated that they didn't even know the most basic of facts. Evidence and statistics were bypassed in favour of opinions and anecdotes on sideline topics."

The discussion at one point turned to whether cyclists should be wearing helmets, that they could pay 'road tax' and whether bikes should be put through an MoT test.

"Such a clear demonstration of lack of research and understanding at this level of seniority would, in any other business, be classed as negligent," said Boardman.

"This was an opportunity to discuss how we can make our roads fit for people to get around by bicycle, improving our nation's health, the environment and cutting emissions. This will deliver benefits for everyone, not just cyclists, and to do it we need to transform infrastructure, tackle dangerous junctions and encourage people to use bikes to get around.

"I'd like to see a proper, fruitful evidence session, rather than opinion-based discussion, on how to protect and encourage cycling as a mode of transport. To that end I am going to write to the MPs on the committee asking them to meet with British Cycling representatives to get to work discussing the real issues that can lead to the transformation of not just cycling, but the environments that we live in." 

Boardman is scheduled to meet representatives from New York's transport authority in Manchester today (Wednesday) to hear about their successful integration of cycling within the city.

The Transport Select Committee's second hearing also takes place today.

Related links

Media are scaring people off cycling says London cycling commissioner

Lorry ban during rush hour may not be answer to cycle safety

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