More should be done to make cycling a ‘safe and normal activity’ in Britain

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.

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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.